Fighting Over The Dead: Langley Cemetery Controversy

Fighting Over The Dead: Langley Cemetery Controversy (Image 1)

Stephanie Lott called news channel 6 to complain about people desecrating the home of the dead. 

“It's a shame you can come up and say people are driving over other peoples' graves,” she says.

She says she's now in charge of the Langley Cemetery and wants to be sure it's cared for.  She says it was “given” to her by a former caretaker. As for who owns the land, she says nobody knows.

“There is no physical deed for the cemetery,” she explains.  “It was owned by United Merchants years ago.”

Lott wants to close the roads across the cemetery:  She says they allow people to run over graves, and she says the plots could bring a profit for upkeep.  Others are saying she's running over their rights.

“She just handed over the books; that's not a legal way to do it,” says Ralph Gunner who has family in Langley cemetery.

Pastor Jack Scott says he has 29 relatives buried in Langley. He's also preached around 100 funerals there over the past half century.  He says Lott does not have the authority.

“First, we need to know how to get the power to do what they're doing, that's no way to form a  committee,” he says.

He says elderly visitors need the paths to get closer access to graves– and he isn't going to be told what to do.

“That's my property,” he says.  “I'm going to take care of it, oversee it, and I'm going to be like Ralph, I'm gonna fight you till the end about it. That may sound cruel coming from the preacher, but I'm a fighting preacher. Don't cut no ice from me, when you're wrong you're wrong and they're wrong.”

Lott says she just wants to care for land that is ill-kept.

“We have a lot of history and we want to maintain it that we want it to be something everybody can be proud of,” she says.

But all this talk of who has authority should come down to one answer:  Who has the deed.  We talked to Lott, to residents nearby, to the Aiken County Tax Assessor's Office, and to the South Carolina Department of Labor Licensing.  When it comes to these 10s of acres they say nobody knows.

WJBF will continue to work to get answers.

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