Clothes removed from body of U.S. veteran buried 19 years ago after someone unearthed his grave

Posted at 3:49 PM, May 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-15 07:55:26-04

BARTOW, Fla. — The grave of a U.S. Veteran buried 19 years ago in Bartow was dug up, according to Bartow Police. His clothes were taken right off his body and found on the ground near the casket. Family members can’t understand who would do this. 

The grave belongs to 75-year-old Willie Graham, who was laid to rest in 1999 after he spent his entire life giving to others. He served in the army during World War II and was a math teacher in Polk County for years. 

He’s well known in the Bartow community, his grave site is right next to his mother and father and countless other relatives.

"To take his funeral garb, his clothing off of him and just have it thrown on the ground, I just can't wrap my head around it,” said Cheryl Brown, Willie Graham’s niece. 

Her family came to the site Sunday to lay flowers down on her mother's grave when they noticed a blue tarp on top of Willie’s grave site. According to police, It had been discovered by a city parks and recreation employee on the May 10. 

"It had to take two or three people several hours to get this done. It had to be done at night where no one can see it,” said family member, Otto Brown.  

Family members are confused why police couldn’t find any of them to notify, but police say they don’t have records because it’s not city property.

The report says police attempted to get information from the funeral home that did the burial 19 years ago, but say they also don’t own the property. ABC Action News reached out to Coney Funeral Home, and we are waiting to hear back.

Police say they are also trying to find out who did this. Brown says they don't bury their family members with valuables.

"That's a very evil human being that did this and the world could do without them,” said Otto Brown. 

Willie’s wife, who lives in Miami, can’t make it to the gravesite because she just had hip surgery, but says she is also sick to her stomach over this. 

"Right now what's important is for us to put my uncle back at rest,” said Cheryl Brown.

The family is in contact with police at this point. Officers say they will work with the family to get this grave site cleaned up and back to where it should be.