Wrong grave? Kansas City man says his son was twice buried in the wrong Topeka grave

Ronnie Hicks Sr., left, protests in front of the Mount Hope Cemetery Thursday. Hicks said the cemetery buried his son in the wrong grave twice, but cemetery officials said the issue was resolved last year. (Luke Ranker/The Capital-Journal)

Ronnie Hicks Sr.’s emotions alternated between happy and agitated Thursday as he paced in front of Mount Hope Cemetery with a sign reading “wrong grave.”


Hicks said his son, Ronnie Hicks Jr., was buried in the wrong spot — twice. He wants the cemetery at 4700 S.W. 17th to move the body and compensate his family, he said.

But Ren Newcomer, whose Newcomer Funeral Service owns the cemetery, said the situation was resolved last year.

After Ronnie Jr. died in November 2015, he was buried in a spot reserved for his grandmother, who is still alive, Hicks said. In June 2016, the cemetery agreed to move his body. Hicks wanted him buried one spot over, in the plot originally purchased for his son. Instead, the funeral service reinterred him two spots over, in a plot Hicks said he doesn’t own.

“It’s like they’re playing musical chairs with my son,” said Hicks, who lives in Kansas City, Mo. “I don’t want this to happen to another family again.”

Newcomer said there was a mixup the first time, which the funeral service became aware of in January 2016 when they contacted Hicks about a gravestone. That June, they agreed to move the grave at the company’s expense. Hicks was on site for the work. While the crew was working, Hicks protested the spot, then changed his mind, Newcomer said.

“I can understand their grief, but we believe we met their expectation, especially since they were in attendance,” he said. “We’re just people trying to help people during a hard time in their life.”

Hicks disagrees and said he told the funeral company his son’s body was still in the wrong location. He wants the body moved again, as well as about $10,000 to compensate the family. The original funeral cost about $14,000, he said.

Hicks said he turned to picketing along the sidewalk this week to draw attention to the situation. He is also unhappy his family had to vacate the cemetery chapel “in less than 20 minutes” after his son’s funeral and that an armed security guard was at the reinterment.

“They treated me like a criminal,” he said.

Because the grave was dug up the night before, Newcomer said, the armed guard was stationed there overnight to watch the open grave.

“We’re not going to leave a grave unattended,” he said. “We did everything, I believe, to give the Hicks family peace of mind.”

Contact reporter Luke Ranker at (785) 295-1270 or @lrankerNEWS on Twitter. Like him on Facebook at facebook.com/lukeranker.

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PATRICK DELAPP 5 months ago
Leaving an open grave unattended?   Body was not there yet,  just put a piece of 3/4 plywood over it like other cemetery's do.  Seems like a complete waste of money to have full time security watching an open grave.    They should just cut the bill down, since they messed up.
David Parre 5 months ago
He just wants money. Twice interred in the wrong spot and both times he was present? Looking for a fast buck.
Kala Allen Hisel 5 months ago

The burial of a loved one is an emotionally traumatic event.  Having said that, why did it take Newcomer from January 2016 until June 2016 to remedy their mistake? 

While the Hicks family has stated their loved one is now in a plot they do not even own and that Newcomer also admits to such, it seems only fair and reasonable to once again assure he is moved to the plot previously selected and purchased. While Newcomer agrees the Hicks family brought to their attention, while in attendance during the job, that the plot being prepared was not their plot, Newcomer states the Hicks family then agreed to accept it.  But, the Hicks family states they did not agree to the second plot as it was still not the correct one. 

Newcomer commented, "“I can understand their grief, but we believe we met their expectation, especially since they were in attendance,” he said. “We’re just people trying to help people during a hard time in their life.”

Obviously, the Hicks family does not feel Newcomer has 'met their expectation' or they would not feel compelled to take their dissatisfaction to the public arena.  Possibly, Newcomer needs to redefine 'meeting his customers expectations'?  For Newcomer to state they are 'just people trying to help people during a hard time in their life', it would seem, in this instance, Newcomer certainly has not helped the Hicks family during their 'hard time in life'. 

Newcomer should make this right.  The Hicks family member should be moved to the plot chosen and paid for by the Hicks. Period.  They also should, in good faith, offer a meaningful reduction in the family's bill.  Newcomer should do such a thing, if, in fact, he believes in meeting his customer's expectations as well as in helping them through a hard time in their lives.  Newcomer's handling of this situation appears cold and harsh and does nothing to assure anyone considering their services peace of mind for their loved ones final resting place.



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