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Family says cemetery is too overgrown to visit in St. Francis County

ST. FRANCIS COUNTY, Ark. -- A family in Forrest City, Arkansas is trying to figure out what happened to the cemetery where their loved ones are buried.

They’re also warning others to be extra diligent when searching for a final resting place.

The plot of land near Widener and Hughes is so overgrown, you can’t even access the spot where family members say the headstones are.

It's along Highway 50 off of Highway 38.

“I thought maybe everything got better, but everything got worse," said Helen Adkins.

Adkins said nearly ten of her relatives’ graves are back there, including her parents'.

“Everybody just loved them because they were just lovable people.”

Three of her relatives, including her dad, are veterans.

She goes every few years to go visit them, but when she went to lay flowers on her mom’s grave this Mother’s Day, she couldn’t get to it.

“I was just shocked and sad and hurt they let it get like this, and you can’t even just go to the edge of it anymore.”

She said the last time someone was buried there was about 20 years ago and she’s noticed the conditions getting worse over time, but she hasn’t had luck finding out who’s responsible.

WREG tried to find the cemetery on foot two days in a row and after that was a failure, we tried by air with a drone.

However, the shrubs and trees are so overgrown we couldn’t spot any tombstones.

“You’re certain this is the spot?" WREG's Bridget Chapman asked Adkins.

"Yes," she said.

A neighbor to the area also said it used to be a cemetery along with one of the funeral homes in town.

But all people could seem to remember was that a church took over the land and then it disappeared.

We spoke with someone at the St. Francis County Assessor’s Office who told us cemeteries are hard to track because they’re not taxed, and in the past they didn’t even file deeds on them.

It was common for churches to take over cemeteries and then once that church closed down, so did the cemetery.

It's all leaving Adkins with her biggest fear:

“When we leave this world, then our kids won’t even know they have relatives out there.”

We found out the property is owned by someone in Florida, but we haven’t been able to get ahold of them yet.

Adkins said she hopes to get more answers soon, especially with Memorial Day next week and Father’s Day around the corner.

It’s a good reminder to check the credentials of the cemetery you’re choosing for your loved ones.