Sue’s husband has been interred at Evergreen Washelli Cemetery since December 2016, but recently, she says the rampant heroin use and vagrancy on the grounds have left her heartbroken.
“It’s hard enough to lose a loved one, but when you go to spend time with them at a cemetery and you have to witness the things I’ve witnessed and my family has witnessed, it’s just appalling,” Sue told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson. “It makes it even harder to deal with.”
Sue says she’s witnessed public urination, drug use, prostitution, and most recently, someone camping between two trees near her husband’s headstone.
“Nobody will do anything about it,” Sue said, adding she’s called management several times without a response.
“I just want to bring my husband home where I can visit him in peace,” she said.
Sue would like to remove the urn and headstone and either bring them home or have them placed at a smaller cemetery located between her home and her daughter’s home. She’s guessing a new plot and moving everything will cost about $3,000.
Sue and her husband bought the plots years ago, “before Washelli turned into this.” She would like the cemetery to build a fence on the north side to force everyone in through the main gate.
“I cannot emotionally endure going to the cemetery under the circumstances,” Sue said. “It’s just too hard.”
General Manager Scott Sheehan told Dori the issue has been growing for a number of years but insists they’re working to fix the problems.
“It has literally changed the way we operate and do business over the past number of years,” Sheehan said.
They’ve changed staffing, added security, and spent hundreds of hours of working on security, he said. They also participate in community cleanups in the area.
“You don’t want to look like a prison with razor wire,” Sheehan said, adding that fencing with razor wire was added in one trouble area. “So we want to maintain the aesthetics, protect our customers, and we work closely with the police.”
Sheehan says to have families feeling like is Sue is feeling is heartbreaking because it’s not just a job for him and the staff. Many of them have deep roots at Washelli.
He said they’ll likely end up blocking off one of the community access points on the north end of the 160-acre cemetery. Fencing all that off is a big job and Sheehan said the chain link has been cut open before.
Dori said he just finds the whole situation really sad and it’s time for local leadership to address the growing problem.
As for Sue, Sheehan said he has assured her that she is able to take the urn home, free of charge.