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Florida man buried in wrong space at city-owned cemetery

Suzie Schottelkotte, The News-Journal, Daytona Beach, Fla. on

Published in News & Features

BARTOW, Fla. -- Two years ago, Christopher Paul stood at his father's graveside in Bartow's Wildwood Cemetery as Jerry Paul was laid to rest with full military honors.

He walked away feeling comforted, he said, knowing that his father, a Vietnam veteran, was at peace.

He didn't know it would be short-lived.

A year later, Paul and his wife, Sara, learned that Jerry Paul had been buried in a space the city had sold to someone else, unleashing a whirlwind of emotion and legal posturing that remains unresolved.

"We buried him once. We aren't doing it again," Chris Paul said. "I feel like I've failed him and have been abused by the city."

Deborah Tate, who owns the space where Paul is buried, has told city officials she doesn't want to sell the gravesite she purchased years ago to be near her parents.

 

"I sympathize with the other family," she said, "but this is not my mistake."

For now, Jerry Paul remains there, caught in a tug-of-war.

City Attorney Sean Parker said there's no question the mistake lies with the city.

"I don't have a good explanation for this except that it was an honest mistake," he said. "The city staff made the error, and wherever that error may lie, I can't undo what's happened. There's no way of getting around the bottom line that the gentleman was buried in Deborah Tate's space, and she wants it. The question becomes: How do we remedy it?"

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