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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Grave Situation Not So Grave

The headstone of 5-year-old Leo Goldman once stood in the Sandpointe Mobile Home and RV Park in Gold Canyon, Arizona. The stone said Leo died in 1911; local legend said he died while traveling through with his parents. Park residents looked after Leo, setting out flowers and weeding his plot.

One can understand, then, how upset they were to witness Leo's apparent removal last year.

Last summer, before the property was sold to a California firm, people were alarmed to see a backhoe near the grave. There was digging, and the stone was moved to a fenced storage area, amid cinder blocks and assorted junk.
Sandpointe's residents kept quiet about what they had seen, not wanting to upset the new owners. When the new owners handed out eviction notices in January, the residents were free to report the suspected crime, but . . . was there really a crime?

As it turns out, the carefully tended grave was not a grave at all. Leo Goldman's death record says he died and was buried in Kelvin, Arizona, where his family was then living—35 miles from Gold Canyon.

Former Sandpointe property manager Geff Gunsalus knows what really happened last summer. He says that the new owners "wanted Leo gone." When consulted, state health officials told him to check if it really was a grave by conducting a simple test: dig until bones appear, then stop. Gunsulas did as he was told, and found nothing.

But what about the headstone?
[H]istorians brought to the site cast a wary eye on the stone. Ninety years old? Hardly, they said to Gunsalus. It probably dates back to the 1960s or ’50s.

But who would create a fake tombstone? Gunsalus said the property’s old-timers, never believing there was a body, told him it may have been the work of a long-ago owner, Ed Kosak. “You have to know Ed,” they said. [Link]

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