East Texas investigators are trying to determine why 20 headstones from Tarrant County were being used as pavers in a walkway leading to a vacant home about 75 miles east of Fort Worth.
Workers late last month stumbled upon the headstones in Hunt County when they were clearing land for a new owner.
As they were getting ready to pour concrete, they found steps, large pieces of stone, serving as a pathway to the house. One flipped over.
When workers saw engraving on it, they realized the pavers were actually headstones and called Hunt County Constable Kent Layton. He is now trying to determine whether the headstones were stolen or discarded after newer markers were made — and how they ended up on Hunt County land that has been vacant for years.
“I’m calling this a puzzle and I’m trying to gather all the pieces to put it together,” Layton said.
Here is what he does know:
▪ Six of the headstones belonged to members of the military.
▪ Preliminary research shows that 11 came from Greenwood Cemetery and six from Mount Olivet Cemetery, both in Fort Worth. Officials have yet to determine where three had previously been. Cemetery officials, who said they haven’t received information about the stones, declined to comment.
▪ The markers were for people born in the late 1800s or early 1900s. Nine were for people who died in 1974; the others mostly were for people who died between 1962 and 1975.
▪ One is so damaged that the name and information is difficult to read.
The Star-Telegram has not yet received a list of the names on the headstones.
When Layton first received the call, he headed out to what has for years been vacant property in rural Hunt County.
He saw 20 headstones ranging in size from about 3 feet by 2 feet to 4 feet by 3 feet. All are about 8 to 10 inches thick; most are granite.
“When I saw them, I thought we had uncovered a graveyard,” Layton said.
He and others determined that the headstones were too close together to have been graves and checked the soil to make sure.
Then he and John Byrd, a cemetery researcher in West Tawakoni, began trying to find out where the headstones came from and why they were being used as a walkway.
Byrd quickly determined that most had come from Greenwood and Mount Olivet. He’s still tracking down where the others came from and whether they were replaced or stolen.
Layton, meanwhile, said he’s trying to identify past landowners and determine who brought the headstones to the property — and why.
He believes they might have been there 10 years or less.
Once he finds who brought them and why, he can determine whether criminal charges should be filed.
The workers found the remains in March 2016 while they were digging a trench at the corner of Lexington and Weatherford in downtown Fort Worth.