NJ woman accuses Laurel Grove Cemetery of burying body on top of her sister's grave in viral video
'No digging or excavation was done,' said Vice President of Laurel Grove Cemetery in response to viral claims that a family’s plot was excavated
TOTOWA, NEW JERSEY: In a TikTok video posted on October 11, user Jessica Tawil said that another person’s body was buried on top of her sister’s grave. “So I just came to the cemetery to visit my sister,” Tawil says in the video. “I can’t,” she says, her voice breaking. "I'm at a complete loss for words right now," read the text that appeared at the beginning of the video.
In the video that has been viewed over 5 million times at the time of writing this, she showed what looked like recently piled-up soil at the grave. Tawil inferred that it was because someone else was buried on top of her sister's body. "There's a body buried on top of my sister," she said.
In a follow-up video, a conversation with someone who appears to work at the cemetery can be heard. Tawil’s father could reportedly be heard asking why another body was buried on top of the grave the family bought. “Every grave is different,” the employee says.
“I own this one,” says Tawil’s father. “How come you got money from someone to bury her above my daughter?” Tawil wrote that the plot was bought at $12,000 in the video’s overlay text. “So this is very emotionally charged,” the employee says, adding that “let’s go back to the office so we can speak to you intelligently." Tawil wrote in the video’s overlay text that the employee didn’t provide them with any answers.
In the third video, Tawil returned to the plot to find that it had been flattened and that her sister's "tiles" were gone. Tawil said that the cemetery “removed everything.” She was unsure if the body is buried lower in the ground, and said that the tiles that used to rest on top of her sister’s grave are gone. “They tried to flatten everything out,” said Tawil. “I’m not understanding.”
As per Pix11, Laurel Grove Cemetery Vice President William Pesodelis' response to viral claims that a family’s plot was disturbed or excavated was, “Absolutely not.” Pesodelis said in a statement, “This week we performed routine maintenance on a grave space and two adjoining spaces as well as many other spaces in our cemetery. In this instance, a backhoe bucket of soil was placed on the area in question on Monday afternoon. This was to service three adjoining graves.”
Pesodelis said the new topsoil was placed after the plot was leveled as part of routine grave maintenance. “No digging or excavation was done. Certainly, no burial was done,” he said, adding that “I have spoken to the family twice and they also spoke with members of our staff. This was explained to them. This is how we properly maintain the cemetery.”
As per a March 2019 New York Times feature called ‘Real Estate for the Afterlife,’ in New York, “At many cemeteries, plots accommodate two stacked caskets (a “double-depth” grave, in funeral parlance). At others, a single grave can hold three — perhaps the logical last port of call for a family of three who made do with a one-bedroom apartment.” In New Jersey, funerals and gravesites are regulated by two separate agencies, the New Jersey State Board of Mortuary Science and the New Jersey Cemetery Board.