CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Hundreds of personal items pulled off of local grave markers were strewn on a tarp, ready to be thrown out Monday night.
A sign outside Lakeland Memorial Park states they reserve the right to remove "unsightly" arrangements.
A spokesperson for the park did not clarify why the large number of items, many of which had been on grave markers for decades, was suddenly removed.
“I go out there and everything's gone,” Kaylee Starnes said.
Starnes was at the park visiting the graves of her grandparents and sister when she noticed the items she’d placed on their headstones years ago were gone.
It wasn’t long before she found them.
“I go back there and there's a tarp just full of people’s stuff,” she said. “I cried. I did, I cried. It was just all these people’s stuff. Broken angels and homemade crosses. It was terrible, just terrible.”
American flags, handwritten letters, and small Bibles were among the rubble.
Fresh flowers were packed into the dumpster.
“There have been tractors on my grandpa's grave since 2007,” Starnes said. “No one's touched them, no one's ever moved them. And I found them out in that trash bin.”
Unfortunately, she couldn’t find everything.
“None of my sister’s stuff, I couldn't find any of it,” Starnes said with tears in her eyes. “I don't have my sister here anymore, she's not here. I lost her when she was 18 years old. I don't get to celebrate anything with her and the only place she's at is the graveyard and I want to put stuff out there without being worried that it's going to go in the dumpster.”
In an emailed statement, Lakeland Memorial Park said:
“We are committed to providing all families with a well-maintained environment for visitation and remembrance. We are addressing the concerns our client families have brought to our attention. We value the relationships we have with our client families and encourage anyone with concerns to contact us directly.”
Starnes said she only wishes the families had been warned.
“I just feel like they disrespected everyone involved,” she said. “They could have let us know. We would've gladly come out there and cleaned it up."