Texas man builds fake graveyard to keep homeless off property

By David Ferguson
Friday, May 17, 2013 15:16 EDT
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John Burns of Houston
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A Houston landlord has constructed a fake cemetery to keep local homeless people from loitering on his property. The small green space is located in the shadow of some of Houston’s tallest buildings, but also close to a known homeless encampment.

After years people sleeping on the lot, the man who owns the property who asked ABC station KTRK not to use his name, said that he had erected the tombstones nearly a year ago. The stones are rejects from a local stonecutter. The property owner said that he did not know when he bought the stones that they bore the names of real deceased people.

A tow-truck driver who works in the area told KTRK, “I saw them putting a fence up, and about maybe two to three months later, the headstones are put up. I knew what it was. I didn’t see any burials or anything. There were no bodies there. But it’s to keep the vagrants out of here because they were always sleeping right there.”

The park is located near a highway underpass where homeless people are known to sleep and seek shelter.

Wayne Chappell, a brother of one of the men named on the gravestones said he thinks his deceased brother would get a kick out of knowing his name was on a second gravestone located far from his actual grave. In life, however, he said his brother would not have made a good scarecrow.

Chappell told ABC News that his brother, Johnny Mack, would probably make friends with all the homeless people he was supposed to be keeping away. “He would get his friends and have a beer party next to it or something,” he said.

Watch the video, embedded below via ABC News Houston:

[photo of John Burns, a neighboring business owner, via screencap]

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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