A Grave Situation - Part Two
Published April 30th, 2014
WILLISTON - From the battle grounds of Olustee to the farming fields of old Williston and now six feet under the ground in Orange Hill Cemetery.
Rufus K. Limbaugh and his family now rest there because the Levy County School Board wants to build a middle and high school where he and his family were first buried.
But how they were reburied here at this site remains a mystery to Limbaugh's great grandchildren.
"I thought I had kind of a handshake, gentlemen's agreement that we would be notified. I don't have it in writing or anything but I thought that in talking to the attorney, he didn't seem to think there would be a problem with us being there," said Stephen Limbaugh, Rufus's great grandson.
The school board's attorney, Charles Koval, told Stephen he would ask school board members if the family could attend the relocation of the remains, and he did.
"And then the school board developed concerns about the safety of individuals on the parcel," said Koval.
"The next thing I knew,we were notified that it had already been done and that we have never been notified," said Ethelene Barton-Streater, great granddaughter of R.K. Limbaugh.
The mortician hired by the school board moved the remains on February 21st.
"Now we don't know because there were no witnesses to how it was done," said Jean Mann, great granddaughter of R.K. Limbaugh.
All the family has to go on is what they've heard from Joe Knauff, the mortician who moved the remains.
"The remains, well, there weren't any remains much but the dirt around where the bodies were was put in pine boxes and buried," said Stephen Limbaugh.
But were the remains properly reburied?
On March 12th, it appeared R.K. Limbaugh's new grave at Orange Hill had caved in after a hard rain. His pine box was visible.
We alerted the school board and by April 13th, it had been re-sodded with clay. Knauff declined to comment.
"When I talked to Joe Knauff, he told me that the school board had told him not to notify us," said Barton-Streater.
"I wasn't looking for it for another 30-45 days. I thought things had to settle down and everybody be sure they had their quote, 'ducks in a row.' But they moved very quickly," said Limbaugh.
And this whole exhumation may have been jumping the gun. All 35 million dollars of funding for the school is still tied up in the state legislature.
"There was this rush to get this done when they don't even have the funding for it yet," said Mann.
"I was devastated. I was very hurt that they would do this. And I was very angry also," said Barton-Streater.
The school board says they did nothing wrong.
They say they gave the proper notice to families and received their approval for everything right down to the man who'd move the remains.
"The act of disinterring and reinterring is the responsibility of the funeral director. We have faith and confidence in Mr. Knauff that he did things appropriately," said Koval.
But did he?
Though the Levy County School Board may believe so, some nationally recognized experts, including the man tasked with searching for Tiffany Sessions's remains, do not. They say a funeral home director wasn't the proper man for the job.
And what will happen to the unmarked grave believed to be on the site?
We answer those questions in part three of "A Grave Situation."
Chip Skambis contributed to this report.
- A Grave Situation - Part Three
- A Grave Situation - Part One
- Limbaugh Family Unites After School Board Controversy
- School Board Breaks Ground For New School in Williston
- Two men arrested in cemetery desecration
- The Grave Hunters
- Two Children Briefly Abducted From Levy County Elementary School
- Deputies search for cemetery vandals
- Unexplained fire at cemetery, residents want city to clean it up
- Archer residents search for answers to fire