85-year-old woman says she was duped by cemetery
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- An 85-year-old woman planning her eventual funeral tells ABC57 she believes she was duped by a local cemetery and is concerned about a mausoleum that is in disrepair.
"It looked like the crypts were draining down on themselves. There were holes in the ceiling where water was pouring in. The smell is horrible." Opal Jost, said.
The ceiling of mausoleum in the Highland Cemetery is covered in cracks where water is seeping in. You can see and smell mold throughout the building. HVAC vents are rusted through and the carpet is soaking wet.
"I'm really crushed." Jost said.
Just says she paid for a crypt about 15-years-ago. In the past few weeks, she decided to plan for her eventual funeral there. She says she dealt directly with the cemetery for many of the services. She says they told her she would owe about $2,000. She paid $1,000.
"And she (a cemetery employee) said 'That's fine, you can pay the rest whenever you want.'" Jost said.
Jost explains she noticed the most recent paperwork didn't give an exact location of her interment.
"So that set off something. Where are they putting me?" She said.
So, Jost and her daughter went to look at the mausoleum themselves. That's when the found the deteriorating conditions. She says she immediately contacted the cemetery with her concerns.
"They just ignored me." She said.
Management refused an on-camera interview. Instead, ownership insisted on sending the following statement:
"Highland Cemetery's mission is to help families memorialize every life with dignity, including providing and maintaining a tranquil and beautiful place for memorialization. In this instance, we have fallen short of our standards. The matter is being addressed, and we want to reassure our families and the local community that we are committed to serving them and their loved ones."
We responded to the statement with an email asking the following questions:
What’s being done to fix the structure? Are there plans to repair it? Are all of the families of the interred being notified? Are folks being refunded? Do you still plan to add bodies? Are you still selling crypts?
Spokesperson, David Shane, did not respond.
Highland is owned by a company called StoneMor. According to their website, they own 322 cemeteries and 93 funeral homes across the country.
"If they're doing this here, they're doing it everywhere." Jost said.