More trouble at Oak Grove Cemetery

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by Chris Nagus

KMOV.com

Posted on September 20, 2011 at 10:42 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 22 at 3:43 PM

(KMOV) -- News 4 continues to hear complaints about Oak Grove Cemetery located at 7800 St. Charles Rock Road.

Gustine Crawford contacted the newsroom after she purchased a headtone for her late husband more than two years ago only to discover it still hasn't been delivered. Crawford says Oak Grove Cemetery cashed her check immediately. Maranda Chapman says she purchased a headstone through the cemetery in March of 2010, but a year and a half after paying the cemetery 28 hundred dollars the headstone still hasn't arrived. Chapman added, "I've heard all sorts of excuses."

Marilyn Stanza is the owner of the cemetery, she says she inherited the business after her husband died. Stanza says headstones for Chapman and Crawford  were ordered through Matthews Bronze in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Stanza says the bronze company is to blame for the mishap. The president of Matthews Bronze tells News 4 his company processes orders within 4 to 6 weeks, and they have never received Maranda Chapman's order. The company also says Crawfords headstone wasn't ordered until the same week News 4 aired its first investigation into Oak Grove, that was more than two years after Crawford's check was cashed.

Ginger Collins-Justus volunteered at Oak Grove Cemetery for several months earlier this year. Justus says the cemetery's mausoleum is in terrible shape, and snapped photos of severe water damage, clutter, and crypt doors falling off. In some cases visitors can actually see the urns holding cremated human remains. Justus says the situation has become so bad some families members are taking drastic measures. She says, " there were family members who had bodies of their loved ones removed from the building and placed at other area cemeteries." Justus also told News 4 family members would complain about missing headstones that had already been purchased.

Beverly Wilson says her father died in 2006, and his body has been sitting inside a "temporary vault" for five years. Wilson says she calls the cemetery on a regular basis asking for his body to be moved from his tempoary resting place in the mausoleum to his final resting place, to his final resting place in what she calls the Rose Garden, but each time she calls she gets an excuse. Wilson also says her father's body is marked with what she calls "a sticky note on the door."

The Missouri Attorney General's office has received 10 complaints about conditions at Oak Grove Cemetery since the beginning of the year. A Spokesperson for that office says they are working with the owner to resolve those complaints. Marilyn Stanza told News 4, "you're butting into business, if you had knowledge of our business and how it operates you wouldn't be here asking questions."

Ginger Collins-Justus has created a facebook page dedicated to preserving the mausoleum at Oak Grove. Click here to see that facebook page.  The facebook page is not sanctioned or created by Oak Grove Cemetery. Instead, it was created by cemetery volunteer Ginger Justus.

Chris Nagus is an investigative reporter at KMOV-TV.

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