WWI headstone mystery: Lakewood man turns to social media for help

LAKEWOOD-Employees of a Cleveland area landscaping company are building a new patio at a home in Lakewood, and this week they made an unusual discovery in a pile of rubble on the property.

It was an old gravestone that reads, “Charles J. Starry, Ohio, Wagoner, 323rd Machine Gun Battalion, World War I, October 8 1895, February 27, 1958."

"We found it upside down so I think when it was upside down, the backside of it is really rough looking, but the front is really beautiful and I think that's what preserved it,” said Nick Dubecky of Dubecky Landscape and Design.

Homeowner Andrew Kruse told Fox 8, "my first thought was ‘I hope there's not a body with as well.’"  Kruse says he was intrigued by the discovery of the gravestone in his backyard and decided to use the power of social media to try and learn about the family of Charles J. Starry, and solve the mystery of how the grave marker ended up in Lakewood.

"I think it's important that we kind of find out why it's here and it would be nice if the family could see it and if they would like it, I would love for them to be reunited with it,” said Kruse.

After Kruse shared his story on social media, posters pointed out that old gravestones that were flawed,  were often repurposed as construction materials. “It’s got to be something with the spelling, something with the dates, whoever manufactured it must have messed something up to just get rid of it like this…maybe it was discarded here or fill was brought in to build up the grade,” said Nick Dubecky.

They are are now hoping someone can shed light on the life of Charles J. Starry, his surviving family members, and the discarded gravestone. "That would be awesome if anybody knew anyone within the family or something that we could reunite this with them,” said Dubecky.