Detectives Solve the Mystery of the Discarded Headstone


Photo via NYPD.

NYPD detectives tracked down the family of Rose Roy Weiss, the Floridian whose headstone was left in a planter under the West Side Highway. The headstone was found by an Upper West Sider out for his daily walk, and police read about it in the West Side Rag and recovered the stone.

NYPD Deputy Inspector Mark Iocco gave the following account of what the NYPD discovered. “We always focus on quality of life, but this time we took necessary action to ensure there’s quality of death as well,” he wrote in a subsequent email.

“Our detective used several databases and consulted with a genealogist to come up with a list of possible relatives. He narrowed it down and was able to reach an individual who stated Rose Weiss was his great grandmother. This individual put us in touch with his father who is the grandson of Rose Weiss. He was able to give us the cemetery where Rose Weiss was buried.

Detectives spoke with the superintendent of the cemetery who confirmed she was buried there. The superintendent also told detectives there was a note in the file stating the monument company delivered an incorrect stone and a second stone was ordered. The monument company delivered the correct headstone and took back the incorrect one.

The grandson of Rose Weiss then recalled his mother (daughter of Rose Weiss) being very upset when the incorrect stone was delivered.

Rose Weiss is buried in Paramus NJ, the superintendent has confirmed the correct stone is still at her gravesite.

Her grandson is in Norwalk CT. We offered to deliver the headstone we have in our custody but he’s in the process of moving to California and did not accept.

There’s no indication of criminality in this case. We’re still not sure how the discarded stone ended up in a planter on the west side. The planter was originally at Pier 40 but was moved up to Pier 92 at some point. Not sure if the headstone was in it then.

At this point I’m comfortable with the results of our investigation.”

The question of why the stone was placed in the planter appears to be moot now.

NEWS | 15 comments | permalink
    1. \_(**)_/ says:

      Ah, Rose.
      Once dead, twice remembered.

    2. detective_lenny says:

      As a lifelong watcher of NYC TV detective shows I’m not sure this can be declared moot until the body is exhumed from the grave in Paramus to make sure it is actually Rose.

    3. Mark P says:

      Moot from the point of a misplaced body, perhaps. But moot as a mystery? Definitely not! 🙂

      There’s definitely criminality here – dumping trash in a planter is a crime. And it could be a tip of the iceberg.

      Pier 40 is next to the Holland Tunnel. Imagine, for example, that the monument company is a customer of criminal waste management services. Not so hard to imagine either out of extortion or because getting rid of stone probably isn’t cheap….perhaps the headstone had to get lost on the way to the illegal dump because it could be traced back to a source – as it has been.

      Not saying it should be investigated further. But it’s most definitely still an intriguing mystery.

    4. jezbel says:

      Clearly she was buried locally, in Paramus. The stone cutter’s first attempt was incorrect for whatever reason. They were forced to take it back and make a second one. Once a piece of granite is engraved it’s no longer usable as a headstone. It has to be of certain thickness. They didn’t see fit to attempt to sandblast off the engraved name. And, I’m guessing, it was either sold off for cents on the dollar or discarded. It could have been salvaged by someone looking to put it to some other use. Or randomly discarded in a load of stone perhaps for use by a gardener, but clearly inappropriate as it was.
      It was mostly likely locally carved, there are a number of stone cutters in the area.
      The only thing I find odd is that it turned up in the planter.
      No exhumation necessary. It’s the stone cutter’s issue and how they attempted to get rid of stones that were in error.

    5. What_a_ Shame says:

      what a waste of resources. Money and manpower/hours that could have been spent on some real crime.

      • NativeNYer says:

        NYPD Deputy Inspector stated the department took steps to ensure quality in death. This is a human interest story, and I feel it shows compassion and caring on the part of the NYPD.

    6. B.B. says:

      People calm down! We’re not taking about a body or even a coffin containing; but a tombstone that was incorrectly engraved. That happens more than some realize.

      Outside of already established family plots or something it can be weeks or months after burial before a stone is put in place. Even then it could be weeks more before a family member goes out there and spots any errors. Once something is discovered the back and forth goes on to get things corrected.

      As with anything else, the “incorrect” item was returned/taken back, and replaced with new correct stone.

      Engraver or whoever made the mistake now has to eat cost of first stone. This likely isn’t first or only time a stone was messed up during engraving or whatever, and as such there usually is a stash of “seconds” or whatever you want to call them that must be gotten rid of some how.

      Macabre as it may seem to some people; there is a market for all sorts of valuable stone, even an incorrect grave marker. Either way the thing was discarded or maybe even sold, and eventually found its way into that planter.

      The late Rose Roy Weiss is resting peacefully where she ought to be, and that is what matters.

      Stranger things have happened in NYC regarding burials. And the idea of reusing/repurposing isn’t exactly new in the funeral industry.

      https://nypost.com/2018/09/29/secret-identity-of-150-year-old-body-found-in-nyc-revealed/

      From above link:

      “Based partly on the curve of her spine, he believes that she worked for Raymond as a domestic. “She was buried in one of his coffins” — more specifically, one with an upside-down patent mark that probably made it unsellable.”

    7. Burtnor says:

      Actually, I’m impressed that NYPD took the time to investigate and courteously offered to resolve an issue that may have been important to a family. The fact that it wasn’t doesn’t make their effort any less admirable. Thanks, NYPD.

      • B.B. says:

        Sadly vandalizing of cemeteries is far too common. As such while it is “good” that NYPD did take matters in hand for whatever reasons, it also bodes well that such things are checked to rule out any criminality.

        Point being to ensure Rose Roy Weiss lies where she should be undisturbed.

    8. liz says:

      As an archaeologist, I suggest the possibility that the headstone was reused, say, face down as a paver in a patio or somewhere. During a reno–after all, it’s now 35 years old–it was discovered and perhaps freaked out the owners, who illicitly discarded it off the highway.

      Kudos to NYPD for investigating!

    9. Great job (as usual) by NYPD. Thank you!

    10. Jo Baldwin says:

      Drop the case on Danny Reagan’s desk and we’ll get a solved and closed case, and an interesting Sunday dinner discussion.

    11. UWSider says:

      I wonder what the error was. This means that the info we’re looking at on this stone is wrong.

    12. Aydin Torun says:

      Not much you can do with a “used” headstone. And these things weigh a lot and generate unrecoverable expenses. It was simply jettisoned. Not the best approach to problem-solving but that is very likely what happened.