Galveston Co. DA's Office joins investigation into Hitchcock cemetery

The Galveston County District Attorney's Office is joining the police in looking into alleged criminal activity at a Hitchcock cemetery.

A grieving daughter is heartbroken. She wanted to visit her dad’s grave site on Father’s Day, but the family is unable to find his grave site.

The McDaniel family isn’t alone. KHOU 11 News has been covering a series of problems at Mainland Memorial Cemetery since May.

First, cemetery workers found a mystery body in a plot that had been reserved for 30 years.

Days later, more families contacted KHOU 11 News to share similar stories.

The Hitchcock Police Department has been investigating the cemetery for weeks.

Now, the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office is helping local police investigate alleged illegal activity.

Saturday, LaSundra McDaniel’s daughter, Tierra, wanted to visit her father, Tony Antoine, on Father’s Day.

“It’s been hard,” McDaniel said. “She’s made it this far, but I think this year with her graduating and the family events and family functions, not having him has taken a toll on her.”

Antoine died in a motorcycle accident in 2001. Tierra was 2 years old.

“It was unexpected,” McDaniel said. “She loved her dad.”

McDaniel couldn’t afford a headstone after the unexpected death. Over time, the cemetery has changed. Trees were destroyed by Hurricane Ike, and many more plots have been added making it nearly impossible to tell exactly where Antoine is buried.

The cemetery’s owner, Russell LaRoe, says he de didn’t get a plot map when he purchased the property in 2003. He told KHOU 11 it doesn’t exist.

KHOU 11 News went to the Galveston County Clerk’s Office and uncovered the only two cemetery maps filed with the county. The first is an original property plan from 1946. The second is a faded 2002 plot map of one section of the cemetery.

A completed plot map should be used to make sense of death certificate plot numbers. Antoine and other death certificates uncovered by KHOU 11 do not have the plot locations filled out.

The Galveston County District Attorney’s investigation may unlock the cemetery’s history and any possible criminal conduct. For many families, the investigation could bring closure.

“I can’t give him back to her; but I can give her a place to talk to him and to sit with him,” McDaniel said. “I feel like I should be able to give her that.”

This year, Tierra’s Father’s Day wish went unanswered.

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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