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WAXAHACHIE A headstone stands as a monument to a person's life. So when a Verdonna Haas discovered dozens of markers along a creek bed near her Waxahachie home, she didn't know whether to be sad... angry... or scared.

"They're piled up here, like making a dam in a creek," she said.

Haas stumbled upon this tombstone graveyard one night last week as she was driving along Waxahachie Creek with her kids in an all-terrain vehicle.

"It was pretty scary," she admitted. "My first thought was devil worshiping or something evil."

Markers with inscriptions like "Safe in the arms of Jesus" and "Together forever" didn't belong here.

"What if I was related to one of them? That would be a horrible thing to find in the woods," Haas said.

A couple of the headstones were supposed to be in Hillcrest Cemetery up the road, she discovered online. Others belonged to graves located in Dallas and Italy, Texas.

Haas checked Hillcrest, and found a nearly identical tombstone belonging to Melissa Anne Deal, who died as an infant 43 years ago.

Turns out Perry Giles was the person to unlock this mystery. He runs Giles Monument Company not far away.

He said what Verdonna Haas found are tombstone rejects.

"I made at least half of these myself," Giles confirmed. "These all came from my business."

"Some of these were mistakes that we made," he continued. "And some of them were things that I replaced of my own accord."

You can't burn granite. You can't send it to to the dump. A former employee said he'd take them to a gully where no one would see them, but they ended up along Waxahachie Creek.

"You've heard the phrase 'carved in stone?' Once it's carved in stone, there's very little you can do," Giles said. "I made that one there with the camera on it and the number '3.' I replaced that one just because I didn't like the way it turned out."

One laboriously-carved stone is the one he'd most like to forget.

"That had already been placed in the cemetery, and the lady called me up to let me know that she loved it, but it had a misspelled word on it. And so I got to re-make it," Giles said.

He had mistakenly spelled ETERNITY as ETENITY.

Now, with all this other granite, Giles pledged to find a place where no one will ever stumble on it again.

Forever.

E-mail bharris@wfaa.com

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