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Couple speaks out about Cave City Cemetery plots, woman buried in lot purchased in 1987

By Allyson Dix, Managing Editor/Barren County Progress


A woman who purchased four cemetery plots in the Cave City Cemetery is speaking out after discovering a woman was buried in one of them without her knowledge.

Deborah Sanders says that in 1987 she purchased four plots in the cemetery, one of which her son was buried in over a decade ago leaving the three empty plots.

In this pre-labeled photo provided by Deborah Sanders, a double headstone was erected and a burial of a woman on plots she purchased in 1987. Photo submitted.


A copy of the original deed was provided to the Barren County Progress on Feb. 13. The seller of the plots was signed by James J. Jolly, President of Cave City Cemetery Company. Deborah and her late husband’s estate of Eldon Dale Gossett were the buyers on the deed. The deed states the lots were purchased for $720 in the “Old Section, Lot number 204” and goes on to detail “4 graves next to Lester Poynter.” The deed is dated October 26, 1987.

Deborah said she discovered a woman named Mary Katherine McClard Walker was buried in one of them, leaving the one closest to her son empty, but a double headstone has been placed for the deceased woman’s husband to be buried when he passes away.

In labeled photos provided to the Progress by Deborah, the plots “next to Lester Poynter” include her son’s grave site then the Walker’s double headstone.

Deborah, and her now husband, Darrell Sanders, both say they’ve attempted to resolve the matter with Cave City Mayor Dwayne Hatcher since last summer.

Deborah and Darrell both say they’ve offered to deed the farthest two plots back to the city if the headstone can be shifted down but Hatcher refuses to do so.

Deborah maintains that exhuming a deceased body “isn’t right” and offered to give two of the three remaining plots to the city.

Darrell said, “He (Hatcher) says, ‘Well, the woman that’s buried there, her family don’t want to move her,’ and I said, ‘You don’t have to move her, just scoot the stone down and bury her husband there when he dies on the other side of her.”

“He said, ‘I’m not doing nothing,’” Darrell said, adding that the mayor advised the Sanders to get an attorney to deal with the issue.

The Progress reached out to Hatcher for comments on Feb. 14 who said he wasn’t at liberty to divulge much information at that time.

The cemetery was deeded to the City of Cave City in Jan. 2023, according to Hatcher.

When asked how the cemetery determines which plots are available, Hatcher said, “It’s really pretty simple; the paperwork we were given up until January of 2023, the city had absolutely nothing to do with the cemetery…the city had no choice but to take it over and run it, and all we have to go by is the paperwork we were given.”

Deborah, however, says she doesn’t want a stranger buried next to her son and she doesn’t believe that digging up graves should be done, which is why she said she offered Hatcher the “two-for-one” agreement.

“All I want is that lot,” Deborah said she told the mayor, “I don’t care about the other two, I’ll give them to the city.”

Hatcher would later reach back out to the Sanders, according to the couple, and offer them two other lots near her and her late husband’s headstone, which has an urn buried in one of them. But Deborah said, “It’s still a body, you know, to me, it’s a body.”

“I said, ‘Dwayne, to me it’s an urn or whatever, but somebody’s body is in that…I don’t think it’s right and I just want the one plot there by my son,’” Deborah said.

“He just won’t give in and do anything about it…at first he agreed, but now he ain’t doing nothing,” Deborah said.

Darrell echoed his wife’s sentiments and said when he spoke to the mayor himself, he was met with, “Well, she’s just being stubborn.”

“He just says that’s all he can tell us and to get an attorney, and ‘if a judge tells me I have to do something, I’ll do it then,’” Darrell said the mayor told him, adding that Hatcher also denied being responsible for a title deed search before selling the plots owned by Deborah.

Deborah confirmed the couple plans to attend the Feb. 26 special-called Cave City Council meeting and said they have been approved to give a five minute public comment.

Both Deborah and Darrell hope to not only have the matter rectified to their satisfaction given they are the owners of said plots, but they also want to put out the warning to others who may have purchased plots in the cemetery.

“People that owns plots there need to be checking,” Darrell cautioned. “I don’t want everybody to be done like my wife is being done.”

The City of Cave City acknowledged receipt of an open records request submitted by the Progress on Monday, Feb. 19. This story will be updated when more information is available.

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