Lake Stevens family, heartbroken over loss of veteran son, feels gravesite is being disrespected

By: Siemny Kim

Updated:

A Lake Stevens family, still heartbroken over the death of their only son who was a veteran, says their grief is compounded because they feel his gravesite is being disrespected.

“It’s like reliving his death all over again in a way,” Marilynn Snodgrass said.

Three and a half years ago, Marilynn and Kenneth Snodgrass did the last thing any parent expects to do. They buried their own child. Their only son, David, was 30 years old. 

His death was ruled an accident.

He was a Marine Corps veteran who was honorably discharged after serving for eight years.

“Being in the military, they said they would bury him out at Tahoma and I just felt like I wanted him close to home,” Marilynn explained.

So the family chose Woodlawn Cemetery in Snohomish which is just six miles from its Lake Stevens home.

David was buried with full military honors.

“It's a quaint little cemetery,” Kenneth added. “And we all thought this is the perfect place.”

Their first indication it wasn't perfect? When workers faced the headstone away from his body without ever asking them. 

Since then, the family says David's gravesite hasn't been maintained. Items, like a Marine Corps flag, kept disappearing.

The Snodgrasses also said there has been a lack of communication. 

“It just seems very disrespectful to me the way they’ve handled everything,” said Marilynn.

The final straw was when Marilynn and Kenneth paid a visit to David's grave on Friday. That also happened to be the Marine Corps birthday and the day before Veterans Day.

A tin bucket holding his flowers was gone. They later found it in a pile of removed items and put it back on his gravesite.

They confronted the owners, who pointed out the cemetery's rules and regulations found on the front door of the main office.

The Snodgrasses said they've never seen it before Friday. 

According to cemetery owners Melissa and Joseph Chapman, it was part of the contract when they bought the plot.

“They're your responsibility to know what they are and to follow them,” explained Melissa.

The Chapmans routinely go on the grounds and remove what is not allowed.

“It makes it really difficult for us to maintain to mow, do things to properly to keep our property in the condition it is,” added Melissa.

The Chapmans said they've let many items slide at David's graveside.

“It's extremely upsetting,” said Melissa. “I've worked with this family. I thought we had bent over backwards to help them.”

“If there's anything I could do for them, I would be more than happy to do it,” Joseph Chapman said.

But Marilynn and Kenneth said it's too late.

The Snodgrasses are already looking into exhuming David’s body and burying him again at Tahoma National Cemetery.

“I feel like I've just failed my son and I can’t leave him there now,” said Marilynn.

“I hope maybe from here on out, maybe the cemetery will take a second look at their policies and understand grieving parents,” added Kenneth.

 


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