Mismarked graves discovered at Fort Logan

CALL7 Investigators Asking Questions After Fort Logan Mixed Up 6 Gravesites

DENVER - Bellina Sosias doesn't go a day without thinking about her high school sweetheart and husband Rick.

"He was such a good man," she said, reflecting on their 47 years of marriage.

In March, Rick died of an aneurysm as the couple was getting ready for bed.

"It happened instantly," said Sosias.

Rick, who was 62, was buried at Fort Logan National Cemetery for his 20-year service in the Air Force and his service in the Vietnam War.

After his funeral, Fort Logan put up a temporary grave marker to indicate where he was buried. For two months, Bellina visited where she thought her husband was buried, but when the cemetery laid new sod and put up his new gravestone, Bellina noticed Rick's name wasn't the one etched in granite.

"I parked my car and walked straight up to it, the same spot it was supposed to be, and he wasn't there," said Sosias.

Bellina wanted to make sure she went to the right grave site, so she drove around back to the spot where she had visited in the past, but came back to the same spot with the wrong tombstone.

"I freaked. Where are you? I know I am at the right spot. I got upset," said Sosias.

After looking around, she found her husband's headstone three rows down.

Joseph Turnbach, director of Fort Logan National Cemetery, said his staff made a mistake and quickly corrected it.

"There were six headstones inadvertently and incorrectly placed on grave sites in reverse order," he told CALL7 Investigator Keli Rabon.

"Our staff failed to follow established protocol by not verifying placement of these six headstones against not only adjacent-numbered stones, but also against records and the map," said Turnbach.

He now plans to change how things are done at the cemetery so this never happens again.

"I'd like to offer my sincerest apology. I'm deeply sorry to the six families that have been affected by this," he said.

Turnbach said that earlier this year, he personally walked the cemetery and helped verify that all 110,000 gravestones were in the correct place. He said that the cemetery began testing a new mapping system and performed a field test to review accuracy and found none of the tombstones were incorrect.

The cemetery plans to unearth part of her husband's grave to ensure he is buried where records indicate.

"It's very important to know that when I do go visit, that I'm not talking to a headstone, but to my actual husband," said Sosias.

If you have a news tip, or follow-up to this story, e-mail me. You can also connect with me on Facebook or through Twitter @KeliRabon.