MARTINSBURG -- A woman is seeking permission to remove, transfer and reinter human remains that could be located on her property where members of a family were alleged to be buried.
Holly Donaldson is the sole owner of a tract of land in the Hedgesville District of Berkeley County that allegedly contains the remains of 14 members of the Wood family, according to a complaint filed Oct. 22 in Berkeley Circuit Court.
Donaldson claims she was unaware at the time of her purchase of the property that the remains were possibly buried there and that there is no indication in the chain of the title for the property, nor is there any visual indication on the property.
According to the suit, members of the Woods family approached her and indicated they believed some family members were buried on her property.
In 2008, Sheryl Emerick commenced a civil case against Donaldson, claiming she had "desecrated" the alleged burial ground and asking, among other things, for an injunction forcing Donaldson to allow her onto her property. Since then , an archeological test was conducted and concluded there were indications of at least three grace shafts in the test area, according to the suit.
Emerick, Boyd Wood, Grace Householder, Paul Wood, Donald C. Wood, Mary Jane Wood, Patricia Alger, John Wood and Rhonda Hensley are listed as the next of kin and/or heirs-at-law for the 14 people allegedly buried on Donaldson's property.
Donaldson claims she is not able to enjoy the full use of her property because of the alleged burial ground, is very uncomfortable with the idea that human remains could be located so close to her residence and that several members of the Woods family have entered upon her property without her permission to view the alleged burial ground, among other things.
Donaldson seeks for permission for Brown Funeral Home to come to her property, search for any remains in the area, remove any that are found and reinter them at Tomahawk Cemetery. She is being represented by Kenneth J. Barton Jr. and Austin M. Hovermale of Steptoe & Johnson.
Berkeley Circuit Court case number: 09-C-888