UNDERCOVER - Debra DiMarco never wanted to take on the Catholic Church, but she kept waiting at every turn in her ordeal for the Archdiocese of Boston to make things right.
Her family was never notified after a former gravedigger told Archdiocese of Boston officials about her grandmother's remains being desecrated at a Catholic cemetery.
When the gravedigger told FOX Undercover his story, the Archdiocese of Boston said he was lying.
And when her grandmother's grave was exhumed, showing a twisted metal coffin and human remains laying in the mud, the archdiocese said it wasn't proof that her coffin had been smashed with a backhoe.
So DiMarco sued, a lawsuit that recently settled out of court, and DiMarco found herself with one more battle against the church: to erect a gravestone over her family's plot.
"Originally I had thought it would have been a nice gesture on their part to even volunteer to have the stone made for my grandparents' grave, so to be at this end that we're fighting just to put this up, it's very insulting," DiMarco said.
It's insult to injury for DiMarco, who thought the settlement would also stop her five-year battle with the Archdiocese of Boston.
"When does it end?" asked FOX Undercover reporter Mike Beaudet.
"Hopefully soon," DiMarco replied.
It began in 2007 with gravedigger Tom Keigney's confession.
He had worked at Holy Cross Cemetery in Malden, and told FOX Undercover horrifying stories about what happened there out of the public's view. He showed gold fillings that he says other workers took from skulls, fillings which he took to prove others' misdeeds.
Most disturbing was his story of preparing a grave for DiMarco's grandfather, James Keavy, in 1985.
Keavy was going to be buried on top of his wife Delia, DiMarco's grandmother, who died in 1977. But Delia Keavy hadn't been buried deeply enough, so there wasn't enough room for her husband's casket.
Keigny recalled how a backhoe went to work to make room, ripping out the body of the grandmother and smashing the metal coffin and concrete liner.
"So we dug the hole a little deeper. ‘Ok, knock her in,'" Keigney recalled the order from that day. "The digger went over, she was laying over in the mud in a pile like this. He hit her, she fell in the hole. ‘Ok that's it.' So we set a liner up right on top of her for when her husband come in the next day."
He had told the same story to church officials in 1986, according to a church record, but DiMarco's family was never notified.
Keigney, a tough ex-con from Charlestown, told FOX Undercover his conscience couldn't rest until the family was found.
"Do you think the family has a right to know?" Beaudet asked.
"Yes, without a doubt," Keigney replied in his 2007 interview. "I'll go into court for them. I don't want one peso out of this. Maybe I'll get some peace. I don't know."
FOX Undercover tracked down DiMarco's family and told them about Keigney's confession. The Archdiocese of Boston insisted he was lying, and tried to discredit him.
"They felt that because of any past he had had that that was going to shed light on his character and make it seem evil in some way. But people don't make this up," DiMarco said.
Richard Bradley, the acting foreman the day James Keavy was buried, was later promoted to a high ranking position at the Archdiocese cemeteries. He still works there.
"Tom Keigney says you were giving orders that day. Is Mrs. Keavy's body lying in the mud?" Beaudet asked him in 2007, but Bradley had no comment.
Video taken by a private investigator hired by DiMarco shows just how painful the exhumation must have been to witness. It shows archeologists looking in the mud for Delia Keavy's bones, then laying out the remains on a tarp, piece by piece.
Those remains, along with the twisted metal coffin, and broken concrete liner, seemed to prove Keigney was right. But it was not proof enough for the Archdiocese, which in 2007 blamed "the passage of time and the effects of natural elements" for the condition of the casket.
"It gave me the resolve I needed to continue with this case because to me this was the most ridiculous, insulting statement they could possibly have made," DiMarco said.
The ordeal was also painful to DiMarco's father, Albert Keavy, whose parents were buried in the grave. Once a devout Catholic, Albert Keavy turned away from the church, even refusing last rites on his deathbed.
"He was furious that they never apologized, they never accepted guilt, never took responsibility. For days after the exhumation, he lived with us and every day he'd say, ‘Did they call? Did you get a phone call from the church yet? Did the bishop call, did anyone contact you?' And every day I just had to say, ‘No dad let's wait, they'll probably call.' And no one ever did,'" DiMarco said.
The lawsuit settled for what DiMarco's attorney says is a substantial amount of money. But to this day she never received the one thing she and her father have been looking for from the beginning.
"Never an admission of guilt. And never an apology," she said.
The archdiocese's insensitivity was on full display when, in 2008, DiMarco was presented with a list of demands over the new grave stone, including that "no additional burials to be allowed" in four empty plots, her family had already purchased.
DiMarco refused to agree, and the gravestone was still sitting at the manufacturer when FOX Undercover visited last month.
"That's indicative of how the church cared about Debra DiMarco and her father throughout the entire case," said attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who represents DiMarco, and hundreds of victims of the church sex abuse scandal. "They didn't care. They were just worried about their wallets. That's all they were worried about."
DiMarco says she settled the case partly to avoid more exhausting legal battles, but agrees it helps the church avoid scrutiny.
"Their solution to everything is to write a check to make it go a way, and it doesn't go away for the people that are affected by their wrongdoing. And I'm sure there were plenty of other mishaps at Holy Cross Cemetery that people don't know about," she said.
DiMarco calls Keigney a hero for refusing to be ignored by the Archdiocese, but Keigney's health has deteriorated so much in recent years he's unaware of the latest developments in the case.
There is some good news for DiMarco though. When our photographer visited Holy Cross Cemetery earlier this month, he found the gravestone had been installed. DiMarco had never been notified.
Archdiocese, spokesman Terrence Donilon won't say now whether the Archdiocese stands by the 2007 explanation of what happened to Delia Keavy's coffin, but did release a statement saying, "The Archdiocese of Boston has gone to great lengths to bring some sense of comfort and closure to the family's concerns."
As for the gravestone, the spokesman says that standard Catholic cemetery guidelines were followed.
© 2018 Cox Media Group.