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CBS 6 investigation helps man finds lost relatives in Virginia cemetery

Posted at 12:45 PM, May 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-21 12:45:27-04

PETERSBURG, Va. -- For the first time in 25 years, a Petersburg man was able to pay his respects to his late aunt.

"I’m looking at the headstone finally, after three years,” George Noel said.

Noel reached out to the CBS 6 Problem Solvers in January to help locate his aunt Juanita Rudy Hunter's grave site.

A month after the CBS 6 Problem Solvers inquiry and investigation, the burial site was located and now it has a headstone.

“When you all got involved things started moving," Noel said. "I couldn't have done this without you. You stayed on top of it.”

Last week, Wilkerson Cemetery owner Virginia Burial Supply placed a marker for Hunter, at their expense, after digging through records and dirt.

“They keep their word,” said Noel. “They told me they going to put a headstone that won’t cost anything,” he added. “I thank them.”

Hunter moved back to the area from Connecticut when she fell ill from cancer.

“She came home, but she’s lost,” Noel explained in January.

Hunter was buried in the Petersburg cemetery in April 1994, and that was the last time Noel knew where her casket was located.

He had been saving up for a headstone for his aunt for more than two decades.

“I said no relative of mine being buried with no headstone and not being recognized,” said Noel.

He attempted to purchase the marker from Virginia Burial Supply three years ago, and that's when he ran into a problem.

“They gave me the price to purchase it and they said we got to find her first,” he explained. “I said, ‘whatcha mean you got to find her?’ They said ‘we can’t locate her.’ I said ‘what?’ They said. ‘give me time.’”

CBS 6 learned Virginia Burial Supply purchased the cemetery in 2002 from Wilkerson Funeral Home, who owned it in 1994.

In January, Timothy Banks, owner of Virginia Burial Supply said, they received limited records from the prior owners of the cemetery. He said they had been in touch with the funeral home that handled Hunter’s arrangements as had CBS 6.

“They delayed me, but not denied me nope,” said Noel. “Twenty-five years she laid here with no marker, 25 years somebody came out here and had no idea where she was buried at but now they can come and now they know.”

“Just letting you know I never forgotten,” said Noel to his late aunt. “You always have a special place in my heart.”

In the process of searching records to locate Hunter, Noel said the cemetery located three other relatives buried in Wilkerson.

“I said how the world they find my grandma and grandpa and baby sister before they found my aunt and they died a long, long long time ago,” Noel said.

Noel said he planned to get markers for all of his family members.

“I don’t believe you forget family members,” said Noel. “You do what you can to keep their legacy or their namesake going and remember them.”