Family finds headstone, possible grave in back yard

(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) - A Paragould family has a mystery on their hands after finding a headstone and possible grave site in their backyard.

"This is a chicken yard and I was going to build a new chicken coop," homeowner Gary Moore said. "So I bought some material and my son and I were stacking it and he threw a piece of wood over here and it unearthed just a piece of the tombstone and he said, 'Dad, there's something there besides a rock.'"

The family moved into the home in December and this was the first time they had spent much time out in the yard.

They cleaned the headstone off and saw it had the name Bernis Bohannon on it.

The man was supposedly born on September 10, 1927, and died on September 6, 1979.

Moore immediately told Paragould police and city officials about what they had found.

"They did come out and they witched it with a witching rod or a divining rod," Moore said. "And from across here is the same length as a casket and from the headstone down to here is the same length as a casket so they're going to get the coroner out here and we're going to do some more investigating."

In the meantime, the city clerk has helped the family do some research on Bernis Bohannon.

They found out he is a veteran and records show he served in World War II.

It's also believed he is from Mississippi County.

On Facebook, some people have told them they believed a man by that name to be buried in Keiser, but records couldn't be found to confirm that.

"The veteran's administration don't have a grave site on him," Moore said. "Apparently the funeral homes here in Arkansas don't have a burial site on him. He's not buried anywhere so he's got to be here. I would say that the man is lying right here. What I want to know is who put him here."

There are also some discrepancies in the man's death date.

The headstone reads 1979, while the Social Security Administration has a death date in 1981 for Bernis Bohannon.

"So apparently someone tried to profit a little bit in the long run on his passing," Moore said.

Although they have several questions that need to be answered, Moore said he is certain that if a veteran is buried in his backyard, he wants to give him the proper respect he's earned.

"He deserves a lot better than this," Moore said. "If his family doesn't care we will do it ourselves, but he deserves some recognition."

The homeowners aren't sure yet when the coroner will exhume the site and try to identify anybody that might be buried there.

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