Cemetery’s fall cleanup leaves families devastated

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — A West Lafayette woman goes to her son’s gravesite often and was devastated by what she found during her visit last Friday. Her husband said he appreciates a clean cemetery but believes they went too far at the Lafayette St. Boniface Cemetery.

Now, the West Lafayette couple wants answers and an apology.

In December of last year, Jett Patterson passed away at birth. His parents, Ethan and Lauren Patterson, visit his grave often and leave angel statues and flower arrangements.

“If it’s not us there, we have family and friends at least there twice a week,” Lauren Patterson said.

But over the weekend, the Patterson’s were devastated by what they saw.

“What I found at Jett’s grave, I pretty much lost it,” Lauren Patterson said.

Lauren Patterson said a ceramic angel and baby toys the family left at the gravesite were gone. She did not have to look far to find the items in the cemetery’s trash, broken and covered in dirt.

24-Hour News 8’s sister station, WLFI, contacted St. Boniface Cemetery superintendent Tim Tully by phone, and he said there is a cleanup at the cemetery twice a year; in the spring and fall.

“They took the things that we felt bonded us to what we can’t feel anymore, and they shattered them,” Ethan Patterson said.

Other gravesites have been cleared as well. Lauren Patterson met with Tully to find out what happened.

“As I was sitting there pretty upset, [Tully] said to me that I should be thankful for Jett’s gravesite because … those sites are donated by the graveyard,” Lauren Patterson said. “So instead of apologizing to me, he was telling, making me feel guilty.”

Tully said all Lafayette churches were notified of the fall cleanup. He also gave Lauren Patterson a rules and regulation book.

She said she only broke one rule, having a solar light. She said her family members have been at the cemetery for more than 100 years, leaving items.

There was never a problem.

“This, what had happened is, just, I almost don’t even want Jett there,” said Lauren Patterson.

No one at the Lafayette Catholic Diocese would comment.