Of all the requests partners make of each other throughout their marriage, one of the most understandable takes place after their time on Earth is over. It’s not unusual for married couples to plan to be laid to rest side by side after they pass on. That’s the way it was going to be for longtime married couple Charles Bovenschen and his wife, Mary. Charles had already passed away, and all Mary wanted was to be buried next to him.
When Mary’s time came at the age of 88, her loved ones made sure her request would be fulfilled. All was going according to plan, and an empty plot had been saved right next to her husband. But as Mary’s funeral began, her family noticed something horrifying about Charles’s casket…
Like many couples, Charles Bovenschen and his wife Mary planned to be laid to rest next to one another when they passed. Having been together more than 50 years, their love was eternal, and that’s something they wanted to take into the afterlife.
When Charles passed away in 2006, he was buried at the Lincoln Memory Gardens in Whitestown, Indiana. A plot was left open next to his for Mary, who would live for another 12 happy years. But when her time finally came, her family was faced with an unsettling mystery…
When Mary passed on in early 2018, Charles and Mary’s daughter, Sandi Vasel, arranged for her mother’s burial next to her father. But just as soon as the funeral began, it was brought to a halt when Sandi and her family learned something no one could believe.
Charles’s casket was nowhere to be found. When the cemetery staff dug up Charles’s plot to bury his wife, they quickly realized it was missing. Understandably, the family was in shock. He’d been buried there for 12 years—how long was he missing?
Sandi was in utter disbelief. “I was kind of numb,” she said. “I looked at [the funeral director] and I said, ‘What you’re telling me is you don’t know where my dad is.’ And she says, ‘Yes, that’s what I’m telling you … yes, we don’t know where your dad is.”
There was no preparing Sandi for that moment. While she was grieving for her mother, now she was forced to experience the tragedy of losing her father all over again. Her shock was overwhelming.
“On that day, not only had a lost my mom but I lost my dad again—not spiritually, but physically,” Sandi explained. “When they opened the grave they didn’t find the shelf. The shelf is what would have been above my dad’s casket to lay my mother on.”
“My initial reaction was just shock. I just didn’t say a thing,” she explained after realizing her father’s remains were nowhere to be found. “Then I walked away, and I had to tell the rest of the family that dad was missing. Dad’s casket wasn’t there.”
That’s when Sandi learned that, since her father passed in 2006, the cemetery was under new ownership. Allegedly, there were numerous complaints made of the previous owners over the years, and they were definitely suspect in misplacing Charles’s casket.
Tragically, there wasn’t much the current cemetery owners could do to make Sandi feel any better. She couldn’t help but think about all the years she’d spent visiting what she thought was her father, when really it was just an empty grave!
“[I] put winter blankets on the grave, put flowers on the grave, talked to him, and now it’s like I was talking to an empty grave,” Sandi recalled later. She’d be deceived in the worst way, and there was nothing she could do about it.
The current owners of the cemetery weren’t able to comment about the previous owner’s potential errors, though they did release a statement themselves. “We deeply apologize to the family and have immediately launched an internal investigation into the matter.”
Sandi tried to come up with an explanation. Had her father somehow been buried in someone else’s plot? And if that was the case, then did that also mean there were other families whose loved ones were in the wrong places?
The fact that Sandi wasn’t able to fulfill her parents’ final wish to be buried next to one another bothered her. Soon, she began to lose sleep, feeling as though she’d somehow failed them. “It was their desire to be buried together for eternity,” she said.
Finally, Sandi couldn’t take it anymore. She demanded that the cemetery staff locate her father’s remains. “I want them to find my dad. They need to find my dad, and they need to do it soon,” she said. “Their job is to protect their assets. Their assets are the people that are buried there and the family members.”
The cemetery owners’ folly ended up causing Sandi to delay her own mother’s burial. Instead, she insisted that he was found so they could still be buried next to each other—the way they intended.
While the staff said they were busy looking into the bizarre disappearance of Charles’s remains, all Sandi could do was wait for answers. “I don’t know when, it could be tomorrow, it could be next week a month, who knows?” she said, completely devastated.
Then, a few long and anxious days later, the cemetery staff finally located Charles’s casket. It was placed in an unmarked grave just one row away from where it was supposed to be—something the officials were extremely apologetic for.
It was only then that Sandi began to feel at peace. Not only did she now know where her father’s remains were kept, but she was finally able to put her late mother to rest alongside her father.
Of course, nothing could take back all the mental anguish Sandi went through to find her father’s remains. Still, she has since found peace in knowing that her parents will rest together for all of eternity!
This must have been devastating for Charles and Mary’s family. Thanks to their daughter’s tireless devotion to their case, everyone can rest easy!
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