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Veteran's family angry over gravesite eyesore

12:03 AM, Jun 20, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A father laid to rest on Friday.

Sunday, his daughter went to lay flowers on his grave for Fathers Day.

But she said she did not find a peaceful place of eternal rest.

"I've gone to many people's funerals and gone to the grave site the next day with them and the gravesite looked beautiful with the flowers all around and you could talk to them," said Judy Canova, through tears. "And that wasn't the way my father's was."

"The flowers were all knocked down," said Canova's boyfriend, Beta Coker. "It's a mess."

The flowers that should be at the grave of Leon Canova, Sr. at Beaches Memorial Park in Atlantic Beach, are instead on his daughter's front porch.

"I could kinda keep them neatly, thinking they would do it Monday," Judy Canova said.

That's what Canova thought Sunday, when she visited her dad's grave on Father's Day, two days after his funeral.

When she arrived, she saw a mound of dirt with tracks through it and a headstone turned upside down.

"I called them up and had a few words with them and asked them they better come straighten this out," Canova said.

But when Coker took us to the site today, it was still unfinished.

"This isn't acceptable," Coker said, showing us the mound large enough to cover several graves. "I don't even know where he's at."

We spoke to a man who identified himself as the owner of the Memorial Park and First Coast Funeral Home, but did not give his name. He declined an on-camera interview, but told us the sites usually take three or four days to complete because they are done by hand.

Another worker told us they finish the holes in the order they are dug, and that he had three other holes that need to be completed.

But minutes after our conversation with the owner, workers moved to Leon Canova's site.

The owner told us we could speak to his wife on camera and to meet him at the front office.

We followed him to the office and after waiting outside for nearly 30 minutes with no answer, police arrived.

"Since I'm getting put in the middle of this, obviously," the Atlantic Beach Police officer told us, "They're not going to come out and talk to you, they have no comment, and they want you guys off their property."

Canova said her father pre-paid for the plot over the years, so he could be buried next to his wife, who passed away 10 years ago.

During funeral preparations, Canova said she did not ask, and was not given an estimate of how long it would take to finish the site.

There is also not a time specified in payment documents she showed us.

"It was just something to go over there and see how they honored a veteran," Canova said.

Now, she just wants to lay his flowers on a finished grave.

First Coast News

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