Idaho family plans to sue after loved one was buried in wrong grave

An Idaho family discovered a relative was buried in the incorrect spot when they arrived for the funeral.

An Idaho family discovered a relative was buried in the incorrect spot when they arrived for the funeral. (KIVI via CNN )

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CALDWELL, Idaho — The family of a Caldwell woman who planned the details of her own funeral discovered she had been buried in the incorrect spot when they arrived at the cemetery for the funeral. The city said it didn't have adequate contact information for the family to inform them of the change.

"My husband and I come out here, we walk to where she had purchased a grave ... there's no grave. We look around and see a pile of dirt over by the road and we go, 'Is that mom?' We knew something was wrong," Kathy Blume said.

Her mother, Elaine Reese, passed away from terminal cancer in July of 2023.

She didn't want her family to be left with funeral logistics in their grief so Reese chose her own burial plot at Canyon Hill Cemetery and made her own funeral arrangements.

When they arrived for the funeral service the family learned Reese was not buried in the correct place

A few weeks later, the family received more information.

"In the mail, I get a second deed for a second plot. I already had the deed so I called the cemetery. They said 'Oh I'm so glad you called, we didn't know how to reach you. Turned out the plot we sold your mom was not a usable plot,'" Blume continues.

Elaine had two wishes for her final resting place: to be under a tree and away from a road.

But the proximity to the chosen tree left the plot unusable with a thick tree root making a burial impossible.

"And I asked 'Well, where is my mom?' 'Well she's over in that dirt by the road, yeah,'" Blume said.

The plot was next to a road, which was something Blume knew her mom did not want.

The family called the whole ordeal, overwhelming, stressful, and emotional. The family filed a tort claim with the city of Caldwell in December 2023.

The family attorney says their tort claim was rejected. However, the city says it resolved that claim by paying for Kathy's mother to be exhumed and reburied in a more suitable location.

The family was asked what was the exhumation process like for the deceased's children and grandchildren.

"Some of them thought it was funny. But I told them, wait a minute, it sounds like a joke, you can't write this but it's really not a joke."

A reporter reached out to the city and it responded by saying it didn't contact Reese's family before the original burial because they didn't have adequate contact information.

"I called the funeral director back and when I told him that they didn't have any way of reaching me he said, 'I was standing right there with your folder with your information in it,'" Blume recalls.

Despite the city covering costs for Reese's exhumation and reburial in a new plot more in line with her wishes, the family says they still intend to sue.

"When I was here and they were moving her I felt like I had really let her down by not being here the day they physically buried her," Blume admits.

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Keith Burrell


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