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Vietnam veteran buried in wrong plot in Bartow

Polk County

BARTOW, Fla. (WFLA) – A family in Bartow is upset after discovering their loved one was buried in the wrong spot.

The city owns the cemetery and wants to move the body to the right spot, but the family says that would be disrespectful.

A Vietnam veteran, Jerry Paul, was laid to rest two years ago.

“We buried him once, we didn’t want to have to do it a second time. We want him kept right where he’s at,” said Sara Paul, his daughter-in-law.

A year later, the Paul’s discovered Jerry was laid to rest in someone else’s empty plot, sold to a woman who bought the spot to be next to her family.

The City of Bartow says someone, somehow, marked the wrong grave at the time of the burial. The one the Paul’s bought was 20 feet away.

“It’s sacrilegious. He had his military service here with honors and by the city leading us to believe that all those places were available to purchase, and we don’t want to see him dug up,” said Sara.

The city understands this is an emotional issue for the Paul family and have suggested moving the body of Jerry to the right plot. That’s something Chris doesn’t want to do and doesn’t think anyone should deal with in the future.

“We’d like to see more people come forward that this has happened to, because as a family we feel like the city’s bullied us,” said Sara.

The Paul’s have filed a claim against the city and are waiting for a resolution. An outcome could come after a lawsuit, and then be decided by a judge. Right now there are no good solutions on the table. 

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