SAN ANTONIO - Emilia Belman's rest was supposed to be peaceful and eternal, but her family was horrified Sunday to find her grave in a small, Southside cemetery partly dug up.
"We came here to put decorations for Christmas, and then we saw the grave open," said her son Presciliano Machado.
Roughly two feet of dirt had been dug up, Machado said, and they found a woman's blouse nearby. He believes whoever is responsible for disturbing his mother's grave site may have been scared off before they could finish.
"What they were doing, I have no idea, but it was pretty appalling and disgusting," said Machado's son, Elijah Machado.
The family said they suspect their loved one's burial site was dug up sometime between Friday and Sunday morning, adding that they knew some people were at the cemetery on Friday.
Belman lies near several other family members in a small, Southside cemetery off of South Zarzamora Street. Found online by names like Loma China Cemetery, Lona China Cemetery or the Chinese graveyard, the burial ground has a reputation for being haunted, though it is unclear if that has anything to do with the desecration.
It is also not the first time the family has had to deal with a disturbed grave at the site.
Presciliano Machado said his brother Daniel's grave, which lies right next to where their mother's is now was disturbed twice sometime around 2009.
A cement slab was tipped over the first time, he said, but on the second occasion the grave was dug up and the casket opened.
"There was clothing that was outside the casket, so there was clothes. I'm pretty sure they took bones," Machado said.
"We put a lot of cement on my brother, Danny. So I might have to do the same thing on mom's grave, too ."
Machado isn't sure what the motive is behind the desecrations.
"I wish I knew that. Somebody that hate us or somebody just doing it for the voodoo or just for the fun of it," he said. "But whoever it is, please stop."
He said the cemetery's supposedly haunted reputation could have something to do with it, but the cemetery's owner, Joey Guzman, doesn't believe so.
Speaking to KSAT over the phone, Guzman said he only knew of one previous occasion in 2009 of a grave being dug up at that location. It was unclear if that was the same incident as when Machado's brother's grave was unearthed.
Guzman believes the motive behind digging up the graves could be related to what he referred to as "witchcraft."
"I'm sure that they use cemeteries like that for desecration because they're easy access than bigger cemeteries," Guzman said.
Guzman said the cemetery's spooky reputation stemmed from a story about a "great-great-great-great uncle" of his who had a forbidden affair with a Chinese woman. Supposedly, Guzman said, his relative went to meet his lover but was struck by lightning, and was buried in the corner of the cemetery.
The ghost story goes that his lover is off looking for him, Guzman said.
For his part, Machado said he has never seen anything paranormal at the site.
"The only one that is haunted, like I said, is the people that is doing the wrong things around the cemeteries," Machado said.
The family is asking anyone with information about the disturbance of Belman's grave to notify San Antonio Police.
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