Items reportedly removed from gravesites: ‘They’re special to the families’

Local News

WAGNER, S.D. (KELO) — Families and friends who have buried their loved ones at a cemetery in southeastern KELOLAND are feeling a new wave of emotions after an unfortunate discovery last month.

Many of Connie Fischer’s family members, relatives, and friends are laid to rest at ZCBJ Cemetery near Wagner.

Recently she found out the items, including angels and stakes, placed at the gravesites were gone.

“Whether the items were valuable or non-monetary, they’re special to the families,” Wagner resident Connie Fischer said.

Mike Medricky received the same news on April 25 about his loved ones’ graves.

He went there the next day and saw it for himself.

He started doing his research.

“The board of the cemetery, they decided it needed to get cleaned up and items removed, so without notification, they came out and they took everything off,” Dante resident Mike Medricky said.

There is a sign at the cemetery listing prohibited items, but Medricky says it went up after the items were removed.

There’s also a notice in April 29 and May 6 issues of a local publication.

KELOLAND News reached out to Clyde Mach. He said, over the phone, that he is the person who oversees the cemetery, but he couldn’t comment on what happened there.

But he did say the cemetery is operated on limited funds, and that visitors have commented on how poor the cemetery has looked in the past.

Medricky says the removed items were burned or taken to a salvage yard.

“The people up there were great. They let us come up there. My wife and I and a couple of community members, we drove up there. We loaded up everything that was cemetery related that we could find,” Medricky said.

He’s working on getting the items back in the hands of the families.

“I had people stopping by who literally busted out in tears because we did have their item and they were so grateful to get it back. Then we also had people who were crying because we didn’t find their items and so there are still questions on where the stuff is,” Medricky said.

Fischer hasn’t recovered any yet.

“Grieving goes through many stages, and each person addresses it in their own personal way. The cemetery, the headstone, the memorabilia, and the florals are a way of remembering people, honoring them. There’s been enough tears in this cemetery without someone deliberately creating more,” Fischer said.

Medricky says other that were taken include toys and flowers.

If you think Medricky may have some of your loved ones’ items, you can contact him on Facebook or by phone.

You can reach him at 605-759-4107.

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