Fremont neighbors upset homes will be built on cemetery

July 19, 2013 8:56:10 PM PDT
Neighbors of Fremont's St. Joseph Cemetery are upset that a new housing tract is about to be built on a portion of the almost 200-year-old cemetery. ABC7 News caught up with a man who claims he has proof that there are still bodies buried there.

"I am totally sure of that. I'll bet my house, my car. I won't bet my family but?" said Joe Lonsdale.

He is betting that there are still bodies buried under a proposed housing development that was once part of the St. Joseph's Cemetery in Fremont. Lonsdale, who lives next to the burial grounds, says he watched as 251 graves were dug up to make room for the 5.5-acre development in 2007.

"They dug up all the bodies in the west and then they stopped. They didn't dig up any bodies in the east," said Lonsdale.

Lonsdale showed us a map of where the bodies were removed from the almost 200-year-old cemetery and where he claims there are still caskets buried in the area where the homes will sit. Construction has begun so he has made his findings public on Facebook. He has found support from other neighbors and parishioners who want to stop the new homes from being built on hallowed ground.

Fremont resident Tom Dias says he heard about the plans and came to check on his father's grave. He told us, "I didn't think they were disturbing them, but I wanted to make sure that those who are at rest here, stay at rest here."

The oldest headstone we found dates back to 1887. What really has infuriated Lonsdale is that the church moved some 248 remains into this one gravesite.

"He was buried up the hill in a beautiful view lot and he was dug up and crammed into a mass grave and that's disgusting," said Lonsdale.

Lonsdale says he doesn't believe anyone will want to live in a home where there are still possibly bodies buried underground. He's written to the developer Edenbridge Homes in Los Altos asking them to shelve their plans and has not heard back.

ABC7 News called and are also waiting for comment.

St. Joseph Church which sold the property for more than $5 million and says the money will go to a new church and if any other remains are found during construction they will rebury them properly.


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