A Central Texas mother needs answers after personal items memorializing her son were removed from his grave and tossed aside at Moody Cemetery.

Meloney Jefferson is the mother of Jace Jefferson, who passed away in 2016 at the age of 12 after battling cancer. Jace loved playing baseball, and the diamond complex on Park Avenue in Belton was renamed the Jace Jefferson Baseball Complex just over a year ago to honor his memory.

Jace was buried at the Moody Cemetery at 1506 Ave D Highway 317 in Moody. Like many of the loved ones resting there, Jace's grave site often featured personal items placed there by family and friends to keep his memory alive.

On Tuesday, Meloney received word that her son's grave had been vandalized. When she arrived at the cemetery, she found that not only had items been removed from Jace's grave and tossed into a pile in the grass, but that a cross shaped foot stone placed at the foot of his grave had been removed.

Photo Courtesy of Meloney Jefferson
Photo Courtesy of Meloney Jefferson

I spoke with Meloney on the phone Wednesday morning.

"I went out there thinking that it was vandalism because somebody had messaged me on Facebook," she said. "When I got there and started visiting with some people, it was clear that it wasn't vandalism, but intentional. From my understanding, it was the board members of the cemetery who made the choice to do what they did."

Meloney posted several photos to Facebook showing the condition of her son's grave, along with a sign listing regulations at the cemetery. A paragraph outlining rules for any items on our around graves that might interfere with mowing and maintenance was highlighted in pink.

Photo Courtesy of Meloney Jefferson
Photo Courtesy of Meloney Jefferson

Meloney said no one from the cemetery made any attempt to contact her about any items at Jace's grave that might be in violation of these regulations. She also said Jace's grave was not singled out. When she arrived at the cemetery, other people who'd gotten word of items removed from graves were there as well.

"It wasn't just Jace who was done that way," she said. "There were lots of mementos and precious memories and items that were placed out there for a reason on loved one's graves, and they, the board or whoever is responsible, literally took everything that they thought didn't abide by the rules, from my understanding, and just threw it in trash piles."

Photo Courtesy of Meloney Jefferson
Photo Courtesy of Meloney Jefferson

Meloney has been in contact with other people whose loved ones' graves were affected as well, all of whom believe that the board of the Moody Cemetery is responsible.

Meloney had been unable to contact the board as of Wednesday morning. All she had was a mailing address, and when she did obtain a phone number for someone associated with the cemetery, she was directed to leave a message.

Meloney says she was made aware of the regulations about the cemetery's policies when Jace was laid to rest, but that his headstone and other features have been in place since 2017 and she's never been contacted about any problems.

"If they would have notified me and told me, I would have been more than happy to take things away rather than having them ruined," she said.

In the photos, you'll notice two round objects in the ground near the foot of Jace's grave. Another person present at the cemetery Tuesday informed Meloney that those are plot markers indicating space that is available. Meloney assumes the cross her family placed at that end of the grave was removed because it was too close to these markers, but again, she was not contacted about the issue before the fixture's removal.

The administrator of the Moody Cemetery Association Facebook page, who said she is not a member of the board, shared Meloney's Facebook post and uploaded photos of her brother's grave site as well. She said a memorial bench at his grave was broken, and that a foot stone there was dug up.

We're trying to contact anyone with the Moody Cemetery who can comment on what's happened there, and we'll update this story with any new information we receive.

Meanwhile, an online petition has been created seeking a public apology from the Moody Cemetery's board.

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