SNELLVILLE, Ga -- It was the mystery of the lost grave stone. A grave marker was found in a vacant home in Gwinnett County and no one knew where it belonged. The story turned dozens of 11Alive viewers into amateur detectives.
Right after the story aired Wednesday we received a slew of Facebook comments from people who did some digging online; then came the emails and the tweets. Some said they had figured it out.
Gwinnett County Policesaid they received just as many calls and emails from concerned citizens and credit that response for possibly solving the mystery.
The grave stone reads: In Memory of Irene Stark "Loved by all" 1899-1991.
Police now believe they have found Irene Stark's relatives in Snellville. If it is her, Irene Stark was born in California in 1989. She died in Snellville in 1992. Family had her body cremated and sent to California where she is buried next to her husband Harold Stark.
"She's my great aunt," said Snellville resident Wayne Champion. "It's amazing how nice people were about trying to find out where the headstone belonged."
"The names right," said Champion's wife Carolyn. "The date is off by one year, she died in 1992, but I just couldn't imagine any other Irene Stark that lived in Gwinnett County at that time."
Wayne Champion thinks the grave stone is his great aunt's and it may have been thrown out because of the wrong date. He thinks it was a mistake because his great aunt died shortly after the New Year. "I guess the stone cutter must have forgotten instead of putting down the correct date, he put down '91," he said.
Champion said his great aunt lived through the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco. In 1980 the San Francisco Examiner documented her recollection of the quake in a feature article.
Champion said his mother moved his great aunt from California to Snellville in 1985 after her husband died. She spent the last six years of her life in a personal care home in Snellville. She was 92-years old when she died.
A landlord found the grave stone while cleaning out a home that was recently vacated. The prior tenant told police he found the grave stone in a dumpster outside a nursing home in Snellville.
The interest from amateur sleuths who helped track down the Champions has amazed them. "Oh, I think she'd be tickled to death," said Wayne Champion. "She'd write a story about it because she always liked to write stories," his wife added.
The only mystery that stumps the Champions is why her grave stone, if it was a mistake, was still around 22 years after she died.
You can follow Kevin on Twitter@krowson11alive
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