BEDFORD HEIGHTS -- A local family is threatening to sue a cemetery after a burial plot mixup.
The Hopkinses lost a loved one earlier this month and received shocking news at the funeral -- some of the burial plots that the family purchased decades ago at Hillcrest Cemetery are already being used by strangers.
Channel 3 news has been following this story, and now both sides are speaking out.
"I have apologized to the Hopkins family every time I've had any contact with them, and I'm very sorry this happened," Hillcrest Cemetery Director Peter Junkin said.
Junkin's staff discovered the burial mixup just two days before Donald Hopkins' funeral service. The family purchased 12 plots in 1994 -- Donald's was allotted correctly -- but two of them are being used by a different family.
"We're doing everything we can to try to rectify this with the Hopkins, with the other family," Junkin said. "We're taking steps continuously to make sure these things don't happen."
The plots are unmarked, and Junkin didn't want to disclose the other family's information, but he is working hard to make contact with them. Meanwhile, Durecia Hopkins tries to cope with all of this and grieve for her father.
"I'm the person that takes care of all the business matters for my family, and it's been real hard, because I didn't sign up for this," Hopkins said. "All I wanted to do was bury my father and mourn him appropriately, and now this takes on a whole new turn."
She's visiting a therapist and talking with attorneys to sort out this situation and find a solution.
"I'm staying strong, because that's what my father would have expected me to do, but it definitely is hard," Hopkins said.
She just hopes it doesn't happen to any other family, and Junkin wants the same.
"We've not had this problem before," Junkin said. "This is a first. Hopefully this is a last."
Junkin has been the director at Hillcrest for three years, so this plot mix up didn't happen on his watch, but he's still taking responsibility for the matter and wants to fix it for the family.
Even if Junkin can't reach the other family or the next of kin, he does have the power to move the plots, if that's what it comes to.
The outcome will depend on how discussions go with both parties' attorneys.