A California family is suing a cemetery after the remains of their loved one were reported missing.
On Sunday (June 18), The Associated Press shared that the remains belong to Sidney Cooper, a Black businessman who popularized Juneteenth in San Diego. He died over two decades ago and was reportedly laid to rest in his family’s burial plot.
However, Greenwood Memorial Park and Mortuary recently notified Sidney’s loved ones that his body nor casket was in the plot where he was supposed to have been buried. This information was allegedly discovered as the cemetery staff prepared to bury the businessman’s wife, Thelma Cooper, who passed in March.
When speaking with The San Diego Union-Tribune, Sidney’s daughter, Lana Cooper-Jones, said the cemetery did not know the location of her father’s remains. “I was absolutely distraught,” Cooper-Jones told the publication. “It was like losing my father again, as well as my mom.” Meanwhile, the cemetery released a statement hoping to rectify the situation. “While the placement of this family’s loved one occurred over 20 years ago under previous ownership and management, we recently discovered an issue with placement and are diligently working to confirm the placement of the loved one,” the statement read. “Our hope is to reunite the loved ones as intended as soon as possible.”
Before his death, Sidney promoted Juneteenth for decades in his unofficial role as “Mayor of Imperial Avenue” near his businesses, including a barbershop and a produce store, the outlet mentioned. After his passing in 2001, Sidney’s family established a foundation to continue his legacy and celebrate the Juneteenth festival. Cooper-Jones informed the Union-Tribune that his loved ones held a graveside service when Sidney passed but did not watch his casket be lowered into the ground. On Friday (June 16), his family filed a lawsuit. In the suit, Sidney’s loved ones seek “to force the cemetery to find the patriarch’s remains and compensate the children for damages.”
According to Eric Dubin and Annee Della Donna, the family’s lawyers, cemetery officials believe they may know where Sidney’s remains are. An underground probe reportedly detected the presence of a casket in a different plot, which is supposed to be empty. Per AP News, the family wants that body exhumed and the DNA tested.
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