Bereaving family appalled at cemetery’s exhumation

Daughter says family ‘disrespected’ over botched burial

By Brad Bowman, Published:

A bereaving Frankfort family watched in anger and dismay Thursday as Frankfort Cemetery personnel exhumed their family member’s coffin that had only been partially buried Tuesday because of a lack of manpower.

With the vault holding their mother’s coffin suspended from chains, children Tammy Cook and Larry Monroe felt as if they were reliving 72-year-old Marilyn Monroe’s funeral as cemetery personnel used a backhoe and shovels to break through rock and dig at the grave deeper.

“When we had the funeral Tuesday, they were lying to us and hadn’t dug the grave deep enough,” Larry Monroe said. “They mounded dirt up over her coffin, but that wasn’t enough and they knew it. The funeral could’ve waited. They called us up and told us basically Wednesday they were going to have to dig our mom up.”

Marilyn Monroe, 72, died last Friday. She was the mother of the late Charles Monroe who was murdered in May of 2013.

Cemetery Superintendent Rodney Godby said he would do whatever is needed to make it right for the family. But with eight funerals in four days Godby said he didn’t have the manpower to dig the gravesite to a sufficient depth.

“The body was already on the way (from the funeral service) Tuesday and we hit rock. We didn’t have the manpower or the equipment to do it,” Godby said. “I was an equipment operator and when I stepped up as superintendent, I stepped into a mud puddle here.”

The funeral service was conducted at Clark Legacy Center. 

Godby said he takes full responsibility for the situation and as a Christian he wants to fix the things that are wrong at the cemetery.

Cemetery Chairman Will Johnson echoed Godby, saying he wants to do whatever he can for the family.

“This has never happened since I have been on the (cemetery) board,” Johnson said. 

Johnson said he didn’t know about the complications until Thursday morning. 

Daughter Tammy Cook felt as if the family had not only been disrespected, but rushed and misinformed. 

“A body has to be buried by Kentucky law 2 feet below the natural surface of the ground. So, they didn’t even do that,” Cook said. “According to the law, they needed a permit to rebury her and they told us they didn’t. This could have waited if it wasn’t right.”

Surviving son Herbert Monroe said he noticed that the chairs and tent were to the side of the gravesite and found it odd.

“We went over to put flowers on my brother’s grave next to where my mom’s would be and the vault was sticking out of the ground,” Monroe said. “If anyone should know the regulations it should be them. If they are short manpower — I run a plumbing business so I know if I am short — we are there all day until it’s done.”

Godby said the cemetery staff has 13 employees including him and hiring additional people wasn’t feasible if it is only for brief busy periods.

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  • Some people have no heart. Tell us how you are paying for their grief. Grieving for your loved one is not being redneck or nonsense. You just have to have a heart to understand.

  • Some people have no heart. Tell us how you are paying for their grief. Grieving for your loved one is not being redneck or nonsense. You just have to have a heart to understand.

  • Poor bubbas! Their lives are such soap operas because that's how they want it. The cemetery made a mistake. So get over it! They owned up to it and have made it right. I appreciate all the work they do to make the cemetery a beautiful place. A grown man crying over a coffin! Rednecks are such a stupid, emotionally crippled bunch and the rest of the world has to pay for their nonsense.

  • I appreciate Steve Fry's comments - and I can't say that about some of the others.....

  • I think that it is time for this family to lawyer up. Laws were broken all through this bad circus act from not doing it right the first time to trying to do what's right the second. How many more or other shortcuts has been taken under the leadership they have there now? Something tells me that this womans isn't the first!

    Steve, pay no attention to C.C., You have every right to share your knowledge or give opinions as the next person does. I worry more over utility companies gouging me more and more than I do a person smoking or selling pot and certainly do not blame them for not being able to take vacations like C.C. does. This town is better than a lot of Ky. towns and isn't no worse off than some makes it out to be. Those people that believes drugs usage suddenly started here has been sleeping for too long and bought into the hype.



  • I feel so very sorry for Ms. Monroe's loved ones.  Losing a family member is difficult enough without all the extra drama added to it.  Everyone should say a prayer for the Monroe family for all they have been through in the last few years. 

  • 1) What about criminal charges regarding improper burial/treamtment of a corpse?

    2) Bad form of the SJ to publish the picture of a grieving man. In the days of decency, we would not photograph and/or televise people in those moments. Cameras can be shut off. Videos can be edited. The media and what ordinary Americans find "sensational" has warped our sense of morals.

    3) Agreed, Steve. The poster you are referring to has also been warped by the media. Just because something is reported often doesn't mean it's an "epidemic". It simply means crime stories garner more sales. I suppose this person also believes ONLY Pit Bulls bite because bites from other dogs go unreported.

  • Bravo Steve Fry!

  • CC, as ukfan pointed out, my voice is just as loud as yours. And yes, I still work at the paper, goin' on 30 years now. :o)

    If Frankfort is "overrun" with anything, it's overrun with decent, ordinary people -- people that do NOT sniff, snort or inject heroin or smoke pot; people that do NOT drink and drive; with people that do NOT rape or beat small children; and people that do NOT allow their beloved pets dangle from the end of a chain.

    The idea that our sleepy little town is "overrun with dopeheads and junkies" is just wrong.

  • gotta be a bad situation for the family, but i understand stuff happens.  i have no idea why funeral homes wait till the last minute to dig the graves, i'll take a swag and guess so they don't get rained on and collapse, etc.  but just trying to think objectively, if i was digging the grave, and the casket was on its way, i think the funeral home did exactly what any prudent person would have done.  hindsight is always 20/20, but i give the funeral home extra points for being up front and honest.  no doubt the family flipped out and aren't thinking on all cylinders.  there won't be any winners here.

    we moved to frankfort 20 years ago, i was called for jury duty for the first of 3 times about 15 years ago, and it absolutely astounded me how many drug cases there were.  i had no clue it was possible to sell drugs out of fast food drive-thru windows.  but then i subscribed to my hometown newspaper, a place less than a tenth the size of frankfort in the hills of eastern kentucky, and it's unbelievable how many drug indictments there are.  i keep expecting to visit family, and find the streets empty one day.  so i guess frankfort isn't any better or worse than anywhere else.

  • cc...Why should Steve not be able to voice his opinion on here just like everyone else? The State Journal didn't have anything to do with this incident. He has a right to freedom of speech just as much as anyone else.

    As far as grave robbing...I've lived here all my life and I've never heard of anyone's grave being robbed. Sure we have druggies just like all other towns in the state but they probably wouldn't go to all that trouble to dig up someone....too much labor involved.....

    And as far as this cemetery grandson is buried there and we have had problems with them removing flowers and the temporary grave marker before we could get a permanent they do have a few unhappy people as far as their services goes.

  • steve_fry:  I contend that it IS the place for such a discussion.  What the Frankfort Cemetery staff did, by not burying someone accordingly, left this deceased person's final resting place vulnerable to thieves.  There are grave robbers and they're usually the kind of people who don't care how they get whatever they can get to sell it for drugs.

    Mr. Fry - as an employee of this newspaper (which I assume you still are) - you shouldn't be taking sides in the open forums of this newspaper - even in your off-duty time.

    Back to the topic, though - It's appalling what occurred and I agree, at least the cemetery staff did inform the family.  But, it's still downright inexcusable.

  • terrible situation but I am glad they didn't try to do this without the family knowing at all.  At least they called them....

    sf- dopeheads and junkies are all over Frankfort news with paper and television so it does paint an ugly picture.

  • CC: "This news is downright appalling, all the more reasons to opt for cremation."

    While I agree about cremation, what I find appalling is your statement "Frankfort is absolutely overrun with dopeheads and junkies." However, this is not the place for that discussion.

  • This is breaking news, must be a slow day at the State-Journal.....Your paper is a joke!

  • This news is downright appalling, all the more reasons to opt for cremation.

    However, I feel very very sorry for the family - there are some things money can't buy and this is one of those things.  Their mother deserved some dignity - not to be put in a grave that was not deep enough.

    In light of the fact that Frankfort is absolutely overrun with dopeheads and junkies - this left that casket and gravesite vulnerable to grave robbers, and trust me - that thought isn't beyond the reach of a junkie.

    I think the cemetery board needs a broad review of their practices and manpower.  If you don't have the manpower to bury people with dignity, then be honest.

  • I am part of the bereaving family and let me assure you that we care nothing about getting a big discount! Thats the furtherest thing from all of our minds! What we do want is to be respected and for our Mother to be buried correctly so we can all get thru as a family should be able to get thru it. Our pain runs deep and YOU should really be ashamed of yourself for saying such hurtful things to this family. Evidently you have not lost someone precious to you! I do not wish this pain on anyone! Please be respectful in the future to other bereaving families that may be "BREAKING NEWS"!

  • So sad.....what funeral home?  Poor family.

  • You know what, things happen...but I'm more impressed that someone (Rodney) maned up to it and didn't hide the problem. I have 2 plots at FC and I plan on keeping them. Go out to Sunset and see what you get.....roads are in bad shape but they have the money to construct new crips.

  • What devastation!   yes, Cemetery Superintendent Rodney Godbey and Cemetery Chairman Will Johnson say that they will do whatever is necessary to make it right.  I certainly hope so.  It is emotionally "trying" to say "goodbye" to loved ones.  Godby acclaims that they did not have the manpower or equipment to properly bury Mrs. Monroe.  Yes, you might be lacking enough employees or equipment to do a complete burial.  I lived in Frankfort 30 years ago, and I said that I would like to be buried in the Frankfort Cemetery.  I now have to re-evaluate this thought.  This is malfasence at its worst.  Any idea who regulates the cemeteries in Frankfort?  Perhaps this is something that should be srutinized more.  Judith La Rone Perkins, Jeffersontown, KY.  40299

  • Also Godby never mentioned calling the police on this poor family when they showed up upset and demanding answers. What a man he must be!!

  • The difference between your uncle... is that this family watched her be laid to rest and lowered down...that was their final goodbye not to have her removed couple days later and go thru the pain once again. Her body has been left outside for hours while they finish digging this hole. They could of had enough respect to take her back to funeral home while being done but instead she is left outside in wide open. The cemetary knew that day the hole was not big enough but went ahead and lowered her into it, the family could have been notified up front so other arrangements could have been made. And also user_571075 can guarantee family does not want money but simply things done right with some respect, this woman meant more than money ever would. How dare you say such hurtful things in a time like this. You may want to seek employment at this cemetary I heard they are looking for disrespectful rude little snotty ones just like yourself.

  • Why doesn't TSJ just put "BREAKING NEWS!!!" on every article??? Stuff happens all the time and it's not breaking news. The bereaving family justs wants a big discount on funeral expenses. My uncle passed a few years back when the ground was frozen and there was a lot of snow. Didn't get him buried until 2 weeks later. Didn't change a thing. He was still dead and we were still grieving.