FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – More than 20 years ago, Liza Linn purchased three plots at Sunset Memorial Gardens, a cemetery that opened in 1961 in Fort Lauderdale.
Linn’s father, Johnny McIntyre, was buried in one of the plots in 1999. Her plan was to use the other two plots for her 95-year-old mother and her to eventually be buried beside him.
When Maxine Bernard’s fiancee, Delary Dennis, Sr., 41, died of complications with COVID-19 in February, the cemetery sold her one of the plots Linn had already purchased.
“They didn’t even catch this mistake,” Bernard said. “The other family ... went to inquire and that’s how this mistake was found out about ... the other family is hurting.”
Months later, Linn needed one of the two plots left at the cemetery’s Section 1. Her 22-year-old granddaughter, Devina Bailey, died unexpectedly in June of a medical condition. Linn was already heartbroken when she learned of the error.
“When I go out there with my paperwork she tells me, ‘You’ve only got one available plot’ ... and that lady told me I could move my dad,” Linn said.
Cemetery employees also told Bernard they could move Dennis’ body. The sloppy record-keeping is happening, as the city of Fort Lauderdale owns Sunset Memorial Gardens. Officials run the cemetery under the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.
City officials said they took preventive measures and they are working with both families to negotiate a solution. If the city and the families are unable to come up with a resolution, a Broward County judge might have the final say.
“It’s hurtful and one family is going to be hurt out of this whole thing,” Bernard said.