New board takes over St. Stephens Cemetery after complaints of lost headstones

New cemetery leader discusses changes

LOUISVILLE (WHAS11) -- It was a painful trip to St. Stephens Cemetery for Crystal Ray, who returns at least once a week, passing by every grave, searching for her uncle's and grandparents' headstones who died years ago.

“I literally have walked every inch of this cemetery and cannot find nothing,” she explained.

Crystal is not alone.  Several people have contacted WHAS11 News, telling us about similar problems, from headstones covered in dirt, to no headstones at all. 

“I'm scared I'll never find what I'm looking for,” Ray said. 

The St. Stephens Cemetery Association has fired the caretaker of 29 years and elected a new board to run the cemetery. 

“She was selling tombstones on the side.  The old board didn't know about it.  If anybody can produce a receipt that has St. Stephens Cemetery on it, we will reimburse them for that,” said Jack Koppel, the newly elected President of the St. Stephens Cemetery Association.

Koppel is joined by four new board members.  They're hoping to bring some peace to the families of those laid to rest.

“We need to start showing that this cemetery is going to be cleaned up and just run it like a cemetery, not like a mom and pop organization that she was doing,” he explained.

This is not the first time Louisville has seen problems like this at a cemetery.  Most notably, Eastern cemetery in 1989, when the Attorney General stepped in.  There is no official investigation at St. Stephens yet, but Koppel says he welcomes it. 

“They need to prosecute anybody that did anything wrong, wrongdoing in this cemetery,” he said.

Although there is doubt in her mind, Crystal said she will not stop looking for her loved ones. 

“Will I ever find them?  I don't know. Are they here?  I don't know.”

Koppel is encouraging people to log onto the St. Stephens Cemetery Facebook page to post any issues with the cemetery.

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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