Unkempt cemetery leaves loved ones to clean up mess

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Memorial Park Southwinds on Hacks Cross Road has been issued fines and an order for the cemetery to clean up.

The issues have caused anguish for loved ones who visit their lost relatives.

Steven Killebrew's uncle is buried at Memorial Park Southwinds. He was laid to rest in September 2002, and months later, Killebrew said he found his uncle's grave in terrible condition.

"I came home again Christmas time and again we went to the cemetery," he said. "We still see the same pile of dirt, which became mud kind of spread out. It pretty much covered at least half of the memorial marker."

Killebrew said he asked cemetery workers to clean things up, but they never did. So he took matters into his own hands and cleaned the grave himself.

A Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance disciplinary report obtained by the WMC Action News 5 Investigators reveals the state fined Memorial Park Southwoods $2,800 in January for failure to maintain a properly updated master map, a number of sunken graves, and failure to properly maintain the cemetery grounds. Documents also revealed the company failed to properly record cemetery lot sales, which resulted in double-sold lots. The civil penalty required the cemetery show proof of better upkeep going forward.

Frank Miles, their Vice President of Administration, said sunken graves are a "natural process" that takes place and admitted the company was months behind on re-filling them.

He said they are doing the best job they can to clean things up, and they are happy to refund any money to unsatisfied customers.

But Killebrew and others believe the work should have happened long before the fine came down.

"When you see mud, dirt, that's kind of disgraceful, disrespectful, like we don't care. We're here to bury people. That's our job. Nothing else," Killebrew said.

As for the sold double plots, the spokesperson for the cemetery claims they had an employee that was not doing her job, and that person is no longer with the company.

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