SPOKANE, Wash. -- Some headstones from Spokane were found near a dumpster all the way over in Vancouver, Washington.
Police said the headstones were actually there for six years before they were discovered.
Althea McMahan Richardson passed away in 2001. She was buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Spokane but her initial headstone had to be replaced. The problem, Richardson's daughter Sonya Rasmussen says, is that her mom's maiden name, McMahan, was spelled wrong. Greenwood Cemetery replaced the headstone and they said they threw the wrong one into a garbage pile they have on the property.
“I can't believe that it went that far! I don't know but that's kind of a long way to get away from Greenwood,” Rasmussen said.
Greenwood Cemetery leaders said they really have no idea how the headstone traveled so far. They said they did not let anyone take it, so their best guess is that someone pulled it out of the garbage pile without them knowing.
Richardson's headstone, along with another one from Greenwood cemetery, then sat unnoticed in the parking lot of a Vancouver apartment complex for six years until someone finally flipped them over.
The Clark County Sheriff's Office posted photos of the headstones on Facebook asking for the public's help. Thanks to tips they were able to track down family members for both. Tracking down family members is something Rasmussen does for a living, she specializes in helping others figure out their ancestry.
“People come into the library and say, 'Help! how do you do it?' And we get them started and it's fun to watch their lines go back and they get excited,” she said.
She is excited she has something interesting to add to her mother's history. A mystery about how her headstone traveled nearly 400 miles away.