Report Highlights Cases of Mass Body Dumping at Company's Cemeteries
Brought to light by a CBS 60 Minutes report, a person's final arrangements is a very difficult time for loved ones, but some large corporations in the funeral trade seem to be taking advantage of consumers at this very difficult time.
We seek out solace during these times, taking comfort from family, friends and even the company we hire to take care of our loved one's final arrangements. Many companies are truly doing exactly what they set out to do and truly care. After all, most people don't go into a particular field or trade without some desire to truly do good. There are, however, those few bad apples that bring to light the need for additional regulation in a mostly unexamined industry.
The CBS report highlights what can only be termed as egregious actions by workers at Burr Oak Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois. Allegations are that the workers removed headstones and coffins, then dumped bodies into mass graves so that the plots could then be resold. With plots ranging around several thousand dollars each, freeing up the space can be very tempting. But it's wrong.
People no longer have the peace of mind knowing that their loved ones are resting. Even for those survivors who are certain of a loved one's final resting place, this case still raises doubts and plants a seed of insecurity in their minds.
Consumers have a bill of rights when it comes to funeral homes thanks to a 1984 Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ruling governing transactions there. There are no such regulations covering the cemeteries.
In the CBS report, a number of the cemeteries featured belong to Service Corporation International, or SCI, dba Dignity Memorial, the largest provider of funeral and cemetery services in North America. The report also highlights other disturbing cases by the company, such as at Eden Memorial Park near Los Angeles, California. Plots approach the $25,000 mark and groundskeepers have been ordered to cram graves so close together that existing burial containers are broken and bones thrown into the dump.
The report also highlighted engraved headstones sitting at the bottom of a pond at this company's Star of David Memorial Park in North Lauderdale, Florida. Underwater video also shows portions of concrete burial containers used to line graves.
Other complaints about the company surround sales practices and allegations that cemetery personnel charged consumers double the original price. One case highlighted by the report claims that a consumer prepaid nearly $2500 for a plot but about six years later had to pay another $2500 fee for the digging and physical burial.
Most cemeteries, of course, aren't digging up bodies on a daily basis. These cases do, however, highlight ongoing abuses that are being committed by a select few that need to be stopped.
The CBS 60 Minutes report is set to air on the evening of May 21, 2012.