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Fort Myers cemetery can't find man's gravesite


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Fort Myers cemetery can't find man's gravesite

By Matt Grant. CREATED Oct 2, 2012 - UPDATED: Oct 2, 2012

FORT MYERS, Fla. - A North Fort Myers man says he can't rest until the Fort Myers Cemetery finds his grandfather, who was buried there almost a half-century ago.

Like the gray and rainy skies, a mystery hangs over the Fort Myers Cemetery. It's a mystery that began almost 50 years ago when David Johnson's grandfather was buried in 1965.

"It was a hell of a thing for me to lose him," said Johnson. "But for them to lose him that's even worse."

Johnson says his father abandoned him when he was five. His grandfather, Smooth Bascum Johnson, stepped up and raised him until he was 13 years old. That's when he passed away.

"He was a man," said Johnson. "He taught me everything I know to this day."

That's why it his death was so hard to take. Johnson never went to his funeral.

"I didn't want to see him in that box," he said.

"Were you and your grandfather close?," asked Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant.

"Yeah," said Johnson, with tears in his eyes.

Almost 50 years later, with no photos and only memories, Johnson felt the need to pay his respects. When he went to the cemetery, the city told him they didn't know where his grandfather was.

"I was madder than hell," said Johnson.

"What would he [your grandfather] think about what's going on right now?," asked Grant.

"He's probably rolling in his grave," said Johnson.

The problem, according to the city clerk's office, was Johnson's grandfather never had a headstone, which wasn't required back in the 1960s.

In fact, headstones were only required in the past 10 years, the clerk's office tells Fox 4.

Johnson's grandfather was buried somewhere in the northwest corner of Lot 5, according to cemetery records. After our call to the city, we saw two workers looking for that grave site.

"We're actively searching for the location and we will find it," said Ivon Butcher Jr., the cemetery's caretaker for 22 years. "We need a few more days but we will find it. We're trying to get some locations together."

For Johnson, it's a person search. One he hopes will give him the chance to finally say goodbye.

"You feel like you lost him a second time?," asked Grant.

"Yeah, exactly," said Johnson. "Exactly. And it pisses me off."

Matt Grant