JACKSON, Tenn. — Cemetery operator StoneMor allowed the mausoleum at one of its Jackson facilities to fall into extreme disrepair, leading to body leakage and a shutdown of the facility, according to Tennessee regulators.
The issues come after a string of similar problems exposed by WREG at StoneMor’s Memphis facilities, including the three Forest Hill properties.
“If they don’t have enough people to take care of the bodies they’re trying to handle, I don’t want to give them one more,” said customer Gail Mann.
Mann spoke to the Problem Solvers in reacting to the rat infestation at Forest Hill’s Whitten Road facility, which led to the state saying two bodies in their care had parts eaten off. They fined StoneMor $14,000.
The WREG Problem Solvers have also covered the decaying mausoleum at the Whitehaven location and other persistent management issues our viewers have brought to our attention.
“You call, half the time you don’t even get a reception. No return calls,” Whitten Road customer Eddie Hayslett said.
Now, Tennessee regulators are getting involved at another StoneMor property in West Tennessee.
“This has really become a huge problem,” State Sen. Ed Jackson (R- Madison) said.
Jackson first learned about the problem from his neighbor, whose wife is entombed in the mausoleum at Highland Memorial Gardens in Jackson.
“He said it had a really bad odor. Needed a lot done to it. It was hot in there. The air conditioning units weren’t working,” he said.
Jackson contacted the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, whose inspectors then visited the facility.
“Tragically there was some leaking of body fluids,” department spokesperson Kevin Walters said.
The department suspended Jackson cemetery from doing any new business.
“They can’t sell any properties or inter anyone in the mausoleum,” Jackson said.
When WREG visited, we found the mausoleum doors locked.
We also found two women frustrated by the conditions at the cemetery. They made similar complaints as customers in Memphis.
“There’s a wasp’s nest. The grass needs to be mowed,” one woman said.
But they didn’t know about the air conditioning or body leakage issues until the Problem Solvers told them.
“I’m supposed to be going in next to my husband. I don’t know how I feel about that now,” she said.
The Problem Solvers went to the business office to try to get answers about why they allowed body leakage in the mausoleum.
A man who identified himself as a sales associate responded.
“You wouldn’t talk to me you would talk to Lindsay Granson,” he said.
Granson is a StoneMor marketing official based in Pennsylvania who has repeatedly declined the Problem Solvers’ requests for an interview. We asked if anyone locally would be able to respond to customers’ concerns.
“I understand but I’m not with this so you have to talk to Lindsay Granson. That’s the person they have as a spokesperson in regards to,” the salesperson said.
When we asked if he had any message to the local community, he asked us to stop recording.
That’s part of why state lawmakers are now addressing StoneMor’s issues.
“It’s a shame it had to come to this point,” Jackson said. “Eventually it will work I promise you. Whatever we have to do we’ll make it work.”
In fact, he said he’s also working with Shelby County state Sen. Brian Kelsey to hold StoneMor accountable.
Regulators also want the public to know, if they have issues, they should file a complaint.
“We can’t step in and take action until the public lets us know,” Walters said.
The state also always has the option to revoke StoneMor’s license to operate here and in other locations statewide.
According to the company spokesperson, they are fixing the leakage issues in Jackson and have privately been in contact with the impacted families.