STEVENSON, Ala. (AP) – Weeping relatives watched as the body of an Alabama woman was exhumed from her front yard Friday, a bitter end for her husband who fought to keep her remains buried there.
With husband James Davis, his five children and some grandchildren standing by the log home, a crew unearthed the body of Patsy Davis from beside the front porch. Flowers still sat atop her tombstone.
Workers used a loud winch to lift a concrete vault containing the casket and body out of the ground. Daughter Rita Webb burst into tears as a cable slipped with a loud clang.
It was all over in about an hour, a contrast to the four years of court hearings, orders and appeals.
“She would not believe that they did what they did to her, because she never deserved this,” said Davis, 74.
James and Patsy Davis were married for 48 years, but she died in 2009 after years of health problems. Davis said it was his wife’s dying wish to remain at their house, located on one of the busiest streets in tiny Stevenson, an old railroad town in Alabama’s northeastern corner with about 2,600 residents.
The city refused permission for Davis to bury his wife in the yard, but he did it anyway. The city sued to remove the grave and a county judge agreed. The Alabama Supreme Court effectively ended the case last month by refusing to overturn the decision.
Davis _ who previously vowed his wife’s remains would never be removed while he was alive _ said he didn’t think he would live to see them unearthed.
The remains are being cremated and placed in an urn, which Davis said he will keep at home.
“I’m adjusting to what’s going on,” said Davis. “I’ve come to the realization that in the end Mama winds up ashes anyway `cause we all go back to dust.”
Neighbor Phyllis Matthews watched as the vault containing the casket was raised from the ground.
“I’m sorry for the family, what they’re going through,” Matthews said. “I lost my mother back in April. I’d hate to think it was my mother they were digging up. But she’s buried in a cemetery.”
City attorney Parker Edmiston did not attend the exhumation, but he said during a hearing earlier in the week that Davis buried the woman at home despite the city’s opposition.
“He said it was easier to ask for forgiveness than permission, and that’s what he did,” Edmiston said.
The sheriff and a deputy were on hand to make sure there weren’t any problems, and there weren’t.
While Davis called the exhumation “a travesty,” Jackson County Circuit Judge Jenifer Holt ruled that state law gives cities the right to regulate and prohibit private burials.
“This never should have happened,” he said. “I broke no laws.”
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- The best places to celebrate Fall in Phoenix
- Infamous athletes who did the most time for their crimes
- 2016 baseball highlights, bloopers and blunders
- See how CFOs really feel about business in the Valley
- The best television shows on the internet
- A preseason guide to avoid holiday weight gain
- The 5 worst things you could do for your roof
- 6 coolest things brewing in Arizona
- The virus that keeps head and neck cancers on the rise
- State Fair ‘Kid Reporter’ has all the angles covered
- 4 important things to know about timeshare maintenance fees
- Signs of delayed car crash injuries
- The truth about sports concussions
- The Alzheimer's epidemic: Facts you need to know
- The season is here, keep your Fantasy Football team strong all season
- 8 TV shows you can't miss this fall
- Football is here: 6 tips to make this your best season ever
- Gameday recipes and beers to match
- 6 reasons the Cardinals are driven to win the Super Bowl
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier