Jones family taking cemetery fight to next level

Published 10:06 pm Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Jones family is taking their fight for the family cemetery one step further.

Thomas Haney, Vallie Haney Shipp, Lana Jones Barbaree, Juanita Jones Ralls and Frances Jones Sherrer, all members of the Jones family, filed an official civil suit in the Pike County Circuit Court against Wheelless Realty, Corp. Inc. last month.

This lawsuit stems from an ongoing dispute between Hugh Wheelless and the Jones family over a small portion of land in the middle of some property Wheelless Realty purchased to build the new Oak Park subdivision on Highway 87.

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As previously reported in The Messenger, the Jones family was upset because a playground and bathrooms had been built near the family cemetery. Family memes say some of the graves have been lost and some markers had been moved during the building process.

Attorney for the Jones family, Joel Lee Williams said the main goal of the lawsuit is to preserve the integrity of the cemetery, but each separate count seeks something different.

In the recently filed suit, the family has cited eight different counts against Wheelless Realty, including outrage, trespass, criminal act, forcible entry and unlawful detainer, negligence, unlawfully cutting trees or shrubs, declaratory judgment and boundary line.

Among the specific things the Jones family alleges includes: “that the defendants intentionally, willfully and wantonly disturbed, removed, desecrated, injured, defaced, or otherwise destroyed, the tombs, monuments, structures or container of human remains. That such conduct by the defendants is outrageous in character and so extreme in degree as to go beyond all bound of civility and decency and is atrocious and uncivilized.”

The plaintiffs also claim “that such conduct by the defendants intentionally or recklessly” led to emotional and physical distress for the family.

The family also claims that the defendants “without license or consent, have trespassed upon the graves of Plaintiffs family members who were otherwise interred at Jones Cemetery.”

Both the Jones family and Wheelless have claimed rights to ownership of the cemetery.

The family will dispute Wheelless’ “rights, title and interests of the defendants’” ownership.

In addition, the family will ask the court to clearly define the property boundaries between the subdivision and the cemetery, according to the case file.

Wheelless’ attorney Allen Jones could not be reached for comment.

Williams said no trial date has been set because law allows the other party 30 days to answer before another period of exchanging information comes.

“We are trying to get the parties to work together to solve everything,” Williams said.