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.