Two Joplin Outdoor Runners Come Across Burial Vaults

Two Joplin Outdoor Runners Come Across Burial Vaults
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Two outdoor runners are still trying to get over what they saw yesterday, never expecting to come across a couple of burial vaults. The runners were taking a bit of an off-the-path route that’s still known within the local running enthusiast community.

Marathon trainers have seen a lot.

Kurtis Schmidt, one of the runners, says, “Well…not like this!”

Schmidt and Jahnavi Johnson were getting in some exercise before colder weather sneaked back into the area. Something else sneaked up to them.

Johnson says, “It’s kind of weird and scary!”

Two burial vaults lean against a cliff, and the top of the cliff is Ozark Memorial Cemetery.

“Seeing the second one (vault) that’s kind of broken into, so that was like, oh wow. And there’s flowers laying around, so it just kind of seemed to piece together…they must have rolled down the hill at some point or something,” says Johnson.

Schmidt says, “You never know what’s in there, right?”

Turns out, there were never any bodies in the vaults.

“It was just in our dump area,” says Dennis Dreyer with Ozark Memorial Cemetery.

The cemetery makes its own vaults.

“The rejected vaults that don’t pass quality control, they are placed in the dump site,” says Dreyer.

The two vaults are part of the rejected batch. Unwanted headstones are also put in the cemetery’s dump site, and Missouri Department of Natural Resources has not received any complaints about the site’s use.

“Everything is by law,” says Dreyer. “We just were inspected here about three or four months ago, and everything passed. OSHA comes out and makes sure everything is on the up and up. The Department of Natural Resources comes out and investigates us every now and then, just to make sure we’re keeping everything up to spiff.”

Johnson says, “It’s nice to know there are no bodies here!”

Johnson and Schmidt say it’s also a bit comical looking back at the situation.

“Still just kind of an odd thing to run across,” says Schmidt.

The dump site where the two vaults were found is on the cemetery’s private property, however there are no “no trespassing” signs and the property is near running and walking trails.