Local family says having a deed to burial plot at Resthaven did not prevent problems

LANETT, Ala- Another family is sharing what they say is an unforgettable and unforgivable experience when they put a loved one to rest at a Lanett cemetery.

One might assume that families with deeds to plots at the now-bankrupt Resthaven should have no problem burying their relatives as long as they have the deed to the land.  But that’s not necessarily so, according to a local family who claims they were harassed by a manager of the property.  They’re sharing their story with WRBL News 3 exclusively in hopes to bring about change in Alabama laws and awareness of the problems people are facing at Resthaven.

Janice Horne, Marvin Turner, and their family members have had a tough couple of years.  Janice’s mother, Mary Ellen, and her sister and Marvin’s wife, Sara Ellen, both passed away within a year of each other.  They say in the midst of unbelievable sadness, their grief was made worse dealing with a woman whom they say claims to oversee the opening and closings of graves at Resthaven.

“To open and close a grave is normally $600.  But out here, through this woman, it was $1200,” says Turner.

In fact, $600 is what they had paid the funeral home to open and close their mother’s grave less than a year earlier. So the family pressed for more information, but say all they received was harsh treatment.

“She said, ‘That’s the way it is. And if you go out there and you put a shovel in the ground, I will have you arrested because you will be trespassing,’” Turner recalls. “And I’m wondering how it’s trespassing when you’re on your own property and you have the deeds for all this property.”

“The last thing that I needed was to deal with that lady over some cemetery lots that were bought and paid for over 40 years ago,” says Horne.

News 3 contacted the lady the family identified as the manager.  We wanted to ask her about the $1200 fee.  She said she did not have the authority to speak about it.  Later, she called back and denied she ever threatened to have anyone arrested.  She says she understands that people are facing their worse hour when they experience a death.  She asked News 3 not to use her name because, again, she says she is not authorized to speak about Resthaven.

She did say the $1200 fee was not something she arbitrarily asked for as an opening and closing fee for graves at Resthaven.  Instead, she says it was recommended on the advice of bankruptcy lawyers and is deposited in an account for the cemetery.

The Alabama Department of Insurance wants to hear from you, should you have any concerns about Resthaven or any other cemeteries in the state.  You can contact the office by calling (334) 240-4420 or reach the department via its website.

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