Members of the Beauty Spot Baptist Church were cleaning up the church cemetery along Old Raeford Road Saturday morning when they found a casket behind a pile of trash in the woods nearby.
Cumberland County deputies said the casket held the remains of an infant or young child.
According to detectives, a man who works in the church cemetery told them he was digging a new grave and never realized he had dug up an old one.
The rusty casket appeared to have been in the ground for many years, according to deputies.
Although vandals have hit this cemetery in the past, at least one church member believes it was an honest mistake.
"This was an old cemetery and everyone didn't put markers, you know. So they had special things to remember where their family members were and they'd been removed," Thelma Manuel said.
Church records were destroyed in an August 2000 fire, so the remains were sent to the state Medical Examiner's Office in Chapel Hill for identification.Results are expected in about a week.
The Rev. Calvin Brewington said if and when the remains are returned to the church, it will provide a proper burial.
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