Milwaukee (WISN) — A man buried at Milwaukee's Union Cemetery two weeks ago will likely have to be moved after it was discovered that he was placed in a grave reserved for a still-alive man with whom he shares a name.
Omika Laws said she was shocked to learn from a Wednesday WISN 12 NEWS report that her father, Otha Lee Smith, was buried in a plot that was purchased 15 years ago and intended for another man, Otha Louis Smith.
When Laws' father passed, she said she was told by cemetery staff that her father had already purchased the gravesite. In fact, it belonged to the other Otha L. Smith.
"My dad's been buried for about two weeks now, and I get this news yesterday and I'm like, 'What? How could you get this messed up?'" Laws said.
She and her more than one dozen siblings all gathered around the gravesite when Otha Lee Smith was buried there several weeks ago. The ground was covered at the time, so no one noticed the headstone with the engraving and photo of Otha Louis Smith and his wife, Idell Smith, who died in 2003 and was interred near where they stood.
Cemetery officials said they're meeting with both families. General Manager Bill Hoffman said his team will do whatever it takes to make the situation right.
Laws knows that will likely mean moving her father's grave.
"It was heartbreaking," she said. "It hurt. I'm still hurt. I can't believe this happened."