LANETT, Ala. — The former owners of an east Alabama cemetery may have walked away and forgotten it, but the families of the people buried there say they can’t put it out of their minds.
The Resthaven Funeral Home and Memorial Gardens just outside Lanett has notices on its doors stating it’s closed– in bankruptcy. But who is responsible for the upkeep of the grounds now? Some people say absolutely no one– and this morning, they’re voicing their frustrations in this News 3 On Your Side report.
“You know, it’s just unreal to me that people would be so heartless and so cold. It’s just unbelievable,” says Cynthia Walker, who has family buried in Resthaven.
Unbelievable, says Walker, that the former owners of the Resthaven Funeral Home and Memorial Gardens could just file bankruptcy, walk away, and leave the facility to crumble—and even worse, that no one seems to take responsibility for the current state of the property.
“I mean it breaks my heart for all these families, not just mine,” says Walker.
Walker had planned for this to be her final resting place, too. But now, she says that won’t happen.
“I just about had it paid for. I only owed about four or five hundred dollars out of three thousand, and I lost it,” Walker says. She adds she is unsure what she will now do about burial arrangements for herself.
Linda Manley understands. Her husband lost out when Resthaven’s owners went bankrupt.
“He paid for his casket, opening and closing of his grave, and everything. And when they went bankrupt, he lost all that,” says Manley.
But something much more, they say, is at stake than money. It’s their peace of mind. These family members say they have photos of embalming fluid seeping outside of the mausoleum area back in 2014. They say it’s a result of the leaky roof and cracked cement, structural damage to the crypt.
“That like to have killed me then. But it’s just gotten worse and worse and worse, and nobody’s doing anything,” says Walker. “I have called the Governor. I have called Congress members. I have called everybody I could think of.”
News 3 contacted Alabama’s Department of Insurance. They told us they were busy, but would try to have someone get back to us. But we didn’t stop there.
There’s a sign beside one of the doors that leads inside to the mausoleum area. It says for “for burial preneed contracts or other needs, please contact Robert Morgan.” It gives a telephone number. We decided to give Mr. Morgan a call.
After leaving two voicemails, over two days, we’re still awaiting a response. But that wait is nothing compared to the wait these families say they’ve endured, in an endless search for answers—answers they say no one seems to want to offer them.
The families did say that they appreciate Chambers County Sheriff Sid Lockhart. They say he voluntarily comes to the cemetery during his time off and mows the lawns, something they say he does because he truly cares about his community and its people.
Both Cythia Walker and Linda Manley say they encourage anyone with similar concerns regarding Resthaven to contact them. Walker can be reached at (706) 518-7685 and Manley can be reached at (706) 518-2573.