MOVED GRAVE CAUSES DISTRESS
In Memory of Jimmy Baliff
3 Sept. 1937 - 23 Apr 1996; Graduate of Heflin High School
"Forever in my heart ... Janet
U S Marine Corps
We were Blessed because you loved us
Your children...Stiles, Deanna, Traci, Danny, your grandson, Nicholas James
Minden Press-Herald, Thursday, May 23, 1996, front page headline:
Moved grave causes distress
by Clint Land, Press-Herald staff
James L. Bailiff was laid to rest on April 26, 1996, in Minden Cemetery. His body was exhumed three weeks later and moved ten feet to another plot.
Bailiff was moved as a result of a mistake by the Cemetery during the original burial; he was laid to rest in the wrong grave.
When Bailiff’s widow, Janet, traveled to Minden Cemetery on Friday to visit her husband she discovered that his body was being dug up by employees of Eagle Burial Company of Ruston. She called her niece, Cynthia Gray of Sibley, who arrived at the grave a few moments later.
According to the two women they tried to get some answers about what was happening to their loved one but could find no one to speak with. “It was quite a going-on that we made. My aunt was screaming and I blocked in the truck as they (Eagle Burial employees) were leaving. You’d think that someone would have heard us if they were there,” said Gray.
The someone that the women were looking for was the caretaker of the Minden Cemetery, Irvin Talton. Talton claims that he was at the cemetery during the removal and re-burial of the body.
“I was there when they dug him up. When they say I wasn’t there, I promise you that’s a lie. No one was there to try and stop them from digging it up,” said Talton.
Not only does Talton say that he was present but also that the two women were not in the cemetery. “They were loading the backhoe on the trailer when I left to help another man marking a plot. I never saw them. I met the men that were there and showed them where the grave was. Then I sat in the car with Mrs. Linwood Inabnett while they removed the body. She was there, and she’s my witness that I was there when it happened.” Inabnett is a member of the board that oversees the Minden Cemetery.
Talton describes the situation as a horrible mistake. “I admit I made a mistake. When I realized what I had done I said, “Oh my God, I put this man in the wrong grave.” I’m absolutely sick that it happened to them but it did.
“This is the first time something like this ever happened to me. I still can’t believe I did it,” said Talton.
Meanwhile the Bailiff family insists that their deceased loved one has been wronged. Gray said, “I can’t see how they could possibly just up and move someone’s loved one. It’s not morally or legally correct.”
The Bailiff family has been in touch with an attorney. “He is checking into the legality of the situation for us but the whole thing is so rare there just aren’t that many laws established,” said Gray.
Talton said, “I would have never moved that body without doing it legally. I did nothing wrong. I had to do it and I did. I’m sorry that she’s upset.”
The Bailiffs are upset that the body was moved without any of their family members being contacted. Talton claims that he tried repeatedly to reach the Bailiff family but after weeks decided to move the body on his own.
The reason the body was moved was because the man was buried in a plot that belonged to Glen Osborne. Osborne is related to the Bailiffs and told relatives that he would have been happy to swap plots rather than have Bailiff’s body removed.
“All we are saying is that the situation should have been handled differently. To be so callous about the issue---it’s not right,” said Gray.
Talton commented on his role as caretaker by saying, “This job is a non-paying, time consuming job. Most of the time I get praised for what I do, not criticized.”
Gray spoke on behalf of her aunt because Bailiff was “too upset to answer questions” yesterday concerning the removal. Gray said, “She just doesn’t want this thing to happen to anyone else.
Gray explained, “ If you look where he is now you will have to set the headstone three feet away from the body. They reburied him halfway in the walkway between the two graves.”
Talton said, “I made a mistake and I’m sorry. I don’t think that I deserve all this hell just because people want to act like (this).”
When asked to sum up the situation for her family Gray answered tearfully saying, “They forgot that this body they were moving around was not just another dead body---he was a father, a husband and a grandfather. He was and is loved and greatly missed.”
“My aunt said it and I guess it’s true, once you’re dead you have no rights. When you’re dead they can just dig you up like a dog’s bone and do whatever they want to you.”