Watch CBS News

Exclusive: Family says Long Island cemetery sold last grave in family plot to a stranger

Sisters livid after Long Island cemetery sells grave in family plot
Sisters livid after Long Island cemetery sells grave in family plot 02:46

WEST BABYLON, N.Y. -- A Staten Island family is livid after their matriarch, who recently died, could not be buried alongside other loved ones because they say the last grave in their family plot was sold to someone else.

The Carletto sisters say their mother is not resting in peace. Sheila Carletto -- a beloved wife, mother of four and grandmother -- was buried weeks ago at Beth Moses Cemetery in West Babylon, but not in their family plot. They were informed someone else had already been buried there a year ago.

"I do not know who that is ... A stranger in our family plot. It's ridiculous," Cristina Carletto said.

An unrelated woman is buried alongside their grandparents and aunt under their family headstone.

"I don't understand how this could have happened ... It's horrible because our family is not together," Emily Carletto said.

Their mother was buried 150 feet away.

"We don't have her with her family that she wanted as her last wishes ... It's absolutely devastating," Cristina Carletto said.

They have the deed to all four plots, which they say their grandfather purchased in 1976 through his social club -- Baewolfe-Rockne Benevolent Association, a burial society.

So what went wrong? CBS New York's Carolyn Gusoff asked the vice president of Beth Moses, John Nolan.

"Aren't those plots just for them? They have a deed," Gusoff said.

"We have no record of that. It's through their society. The society keeps all the records," Nolan said.

Lots of private organizations manage their own sections of cemeteries; they buy up multiple graves. In this case, Rockne Baewolfe. The custodian that's currently in charge told Gusoff the organization has not been in existence for 20 years.

Reached by phone out of state, Herbert Phillips said he never saw the Carletto family's deed, only a map passed down to him from deceased burial society leaders.

"You'll see plot 43 is totally blank. There is no name in it. Had there been a name in it, no one would have ever been buried in that plot," Phillips said.

"The original deed showed that the grandfather purchased four graves with that plot," Gusoff said.

"All I was given was the map," Phillips said.

Sheila Carletto is buried in one of his own plots. Her daughters say they did provide the deed when she died.

So what now?

"We want some resolution, some answers, some explanation, somebody to be held accountable," Cristina Carletto said.

"We made prior arrangements so we would be prepared to deal with this, and now we are in a whole new nightmare," Emily Carletto said. 

The family is trying to locate relatives of the woman buried in their plot to, sadly, arrange for a swap. It's costly option with no one currently offering to pay.

Beth Moses says the cemetery has 400 private burial societies, which manage who gets buried and where.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.