Family of murder victim claims casket was dug up, left unattende - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Family of murder victim claims casket was dug up, left unattended, damaged by flooding

(Provided, Yvette Talbert) (Provided, Yvette Talbert)
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

The family of a local murder victim is outraged because they claim a local cemetery allowed their late loved one's casket to be flooded with sewage water, damaged and then left unattended.

Jaron Steele was murdered in December. According to his family, he was buried at Vine Street Hill Cemetery a few weeks later.

Steele's mother Yvette Talbert said family went to visit his gravesite in April and were upset when they noticed that the area he was buried in was flooded.

"That was the last thing that I could do for my son to lay him to rest properly, to give him a good homecoming, but they took that away," Talbert said.

Cemetery officials claim that excessive rain caused an underground French drain system to fail. They agreed to move Steele's body to a new spot in the cemetery away from the water, per Steele's family's request.

However, Talbert said that when they showed up to see the relocation last week, they instead were greeted by a hole full of dirty, smelly water and found Steele's casket in poor condition - moldy, rusty, dug up and unattended.

"It's just unacceptable and just unbelievable to me," Talbert said.

To find out how bad the water damage was, Talbert, who has a key to the casket, said that they opened it.

"The inside of my son's coffin - it's horrible. My son's body is horrible," Talbert said. "His coffin was filled with all that [water]. My son was just in there floating with all that nastiness."

Steele is currently in the cemetery's mausoleum.

Talbert said that she wants to have a funeral home pick up his body to see if they can bury it elsewhere. She said she wants him to have a peaceful final resting place while the family fights to keep his accused killer behind bars.

"All I know is that I have to get justice for my son, for Jaron, and that's what's keeping me going because that's my son, that's my baby, and the mother in me won't let me do anything less," Talbert said.

The Vine Street Hill Cemetery released a statement Monday that reads:

"We have become aware of considerable activity on social and other media regarding the grave of Jaron Lamar Steele.  We recently discovered that, likely due to the extraordinary rain the Cincinnati area has experienced over the last several months, an underground french drain system failed, causing extraordinary saturation in the ground around Mr. Steele’s grave.   Upon learning of this, we met with Mr. Steele’s immediate family, and we agreed to move Mr. Steele’s remains to another site, one selected by the family, and at our expense.  Mr. Steele’s casket was removed, but because the family insisted on witnessing the transition of the casket to another receptacle, the casket remained above ground for a longer than usual length of time.  The removal process caused the concrete box to partially collapse, allowing water to flood the grave cavity during the removal of the casket.   Following the departure of the family, Mr. Steele’s casket was moved to a secure and dry location, where it remains, pending final instructions from the family regarding its disposition.  This situation was addressed by us promptly, and with respect and concern for the deceased and his survivors.  We have taken all reasonable steps to promptly remedy a situation beyond our control, and we have also made, continue to make, every accommodation reasonably possible to respond to the distress articulated by various of Mr. Steele’s survivors."

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