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Families of loved ones buried in St. Matthew's cemetery await next step

Posted at 6:23 PM, Aug 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-28 18:23:32-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Families of loved ones sat in Supreme Court in buffalo and listened to lawyers and the judge discuss how to proceed with this case.

The remains of 215 people were moved from their graves without the knowledge of their families.

"It's emotional now because when I went to see my mother for mother's day she wasn't there," said Regina Baker, trying to hold back tears. "She wasn't there and I couldn't get in touch with the funeral home until after the fact."

Erie County Supreme Court Justice Dennis Ward ruled that families can either keep their loved ones buried in St. Matthew's cemetery in West Seneca, or or move them to another location.

"I had my husband moved. I had to pay for it but I didn't have time for a lot of going back and forth 'cause everything was going to fast," said Anita Hudson, whose husband is no longer buried at St. Matthew's.

St. Matthew's now has to discuss with the families what their desires are for their loved ones' final resting place.

Judge Ward said the cemetery will need to continue moving remains due to unstable ground, and must inform any further family members of what it is doing - spouses, parents or children.

The plaintiff's argued that an issue moving forward for the cemetery is that it might have a hard time getting in contact with families.

But the judge and family attorneys said it's not difficult to get in contact with funeral directors, read obituaries, or hire an investigator.

"I'm praying that they're going to wrap things up 'cause they moved my sister without my knowledge," said Karen Martin.

All of this stems from what happened last April, when the cemetery said it was forced to excavate the graves because a portion of the bank along Cayuga Creek collapsed.

According to court documents, the cemetery did not have all required consents from family members before doing so.

All parties will be back in court on October 30 at 2 p.m.