Entries in Cemetery (3)


British Family Lives in Cemetery in Converted Mortuary

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(HAMPSHIRE, England) -- Would you go trick-or-treating in a cemetery for Halloween?

Well, Jayne Stead and Mike Blatchford admit that trick-or-treaters steer clear of the converted mortuary chapel in the center of a cemetery where they live with their three teenage children.

"Nobody has ventured down here for trick-or-treating," Stead, of Southampton, a town located in Hampshire in the south of England, said, according to the Daily Mail in Britain.

Unsuspecting visitors have been startled by the family's presence in the cemetery.

"You get people peering in to the windows of the chapel and when they see us watching television, they jump a million miles," Stead told the newspaper.

Stead and Blatchford bought the home -- a former mortuary and graveyard keeper's lodge that dates back to the 1800s -- six years ago because they fell in love with it.

Blatchford, a builder, modernized the interior, but photos of the exterior show the structure doesn't appear to have been changed much from when it was first built.

Despite its appearance -- the gray stone building faces several gravestones -- Stead said her family isn't spooked.

She added that their home has a "nice feeling," although she acknowledged that strange things have happened, the paper also reported.

"I've been sitting on my own in the living room and I've felt like there was someone standing behind me a few times," she said. "I've also found the dog barking at nothing in the corner of the room, but it's not scary."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Digital QR Codes Offer Interactive Cemetery Experience in Britain

Courtesy Chester Pearce Associates(LONDON) -- For centuries we have marked our dead with lifeless granite -- graves inscribed with names, dates, perhaps small inscriptions about the departed.  But stones do not tell stories.

Now, a funeral home in Britain is attaching tiny digital codes to headstones, giving visitors the chance to see, hear, even experience the lives of the dead.  No longer are graveyard visitors limited to letters and numbers etched into tombstones.

The markers, known as Quick Response or QR codes, look like a combination of a barcode and Rorschach blot and are attached to the back corner of the stone.  A smartphone with a QR reader can scan the code, launching websites or multimedia collections created by the family, providing an interactive life story to anyone standing over the grave, or logging in online.

"It is about keeping the memory of someone alive," Stephen Nimmo, managing director of the funeral home Chester Pearce Associates, told ABC News.  "This man or woman really did something -- these are the people they knew, these are their family, this is where they went.  You can learn a lot more about people than what you see on the stone."

QR codes have been used in advertisements for years, and a handful of American funeral homes began attaching them to gravestones in early 2011.  This appears to be the first time they have been placed on gravestones in the United Kingdom.

Nimmo said the codes are for both visitors and the family.  Anyone walking through a graveyard who spots a code can scan it.  And the family can create online memorials to the dead.

"For the families, it's part of the grieving process," Nimmo said in a phone conversation from Poole, along the southern coast of England.  "But it's more for strangers.  Certainly in the U.K., people go to cemeteries and have a historical interest.  People are more interested in not only his name, but what he looked like.  For a country that doesn't talk about death, there's a morbid fascination in it."

Nimmo launched the service, which costs about $600, two weeks ago.  He said he has signed up 10 customers and hasn't encountered much resistance or anyone objecting to technology impinging on tradition.  He also offers versions that can attach to benches, trees -- anywhere a family has chosen to mark their loved ones.

"Sometimes, the British are reticent to doing anything new. God forbid we should do anything too modern," he said.  "This has so much more information than the headstone can ever offer."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Teeth Thief Hits Graves of Great Composers in Austria

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(VIENNA) -- Dentures of two of the world's most famous composers have allegedly been stolen from their graves by a Slovak man who boasts of his crimes on YouTube saying he intends to use the purloined choppers to start a museum.

Ondrej Jajcaj, the self confessed thief, says the teeth he extracted from the tombs of the famous 19th century composers Johann Strauss and Johannes Brahms will be part of an exhibition of hundreds of objects plundered from more ordinary graves.

The man was identified in Austrian media reports simply by his initials, O.J.  But a search on the Internet reveals Ondrej Jajcaj, who calls himself the Freedom Undertaker, taking his Internet viewers on a tour of "graves of honor" in the Viennese Central Cemetery, saying that someone has opened the crypts, pointing out fresh dirt uncovered around the tombs.

In one video, Jajcaj gives a tour of his macabre collection of stolen teeth and at one point narrates: "And now, we come to the major pedestal.  On the top are the teeth of Johann Strauss Jr.  To the left there are dentures of his wife Adele Strauss.  To the right, we have rubber prosthesis of Johannes Brahms.  Here, I, as an amateur have managed to build illegal historical collection of dental works."

In 2008, cemetery officials reported that some graves had been tampered with.  As a result, Jajcaj was investigated by Vienna prosecutors for "disturbing the peace of the dead," but they dropped the case because the statute of limitations had run out.

Austrian police again learned of the dastardly dental work when the alleged grave robber released videos bragging about his thefts.

Austrian cops started an investigation in May and they found the claims on the video were true -- the famous musicians' teeth had been removed.

The thief could be facing from six months up to 10 years of prison, claims Thomas Vecsey of the Vienna state prosecutor's office.

"We hope we can charge him with burglary, disturbing the peace of the dead and other related crimes," he told ABC News.  "But the fact that he is not Austrian and does not reside in Austria, complicates things."

He also said that the thefts took place in 2002, which may make them too old to prosecute.

The Federal Criminal Police Office, the Austrian equivalent of the FBI, is checking other graves in the cemetery of such great Viennese composers as Ludwig von Beethoven, Franz Schubert and Arnold Schoenberg.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio