ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – The News4Jax I-TEAM has learned Beaches Memorial Park may now be for sale.
Someone posted the advertisement on Craigslist last week, a day after the I-TEAM went to investigate another claim of a botched service at the cemetery.
The post does not name the cemetery and funeral home that are being offered for sale, but includes a map of its location in Atlantic Beach, with a description of the property that matches, in part, Beaches Memorial Park.
The cemetery has been the subject of an I-TEAM investigation for more than two months. It is the only cemetery in Atlantic Beach. The I-TEAM replied to the posting, asking for details, has not yet heard back.
The ad is titled: “Must Sell” and refers to an asking price of $900,000 as "sacrificing," suggesting the cemetery and funeral home's net worth is in excess of $2 million. The post ends with, "No reasonable offer refused." The I-TEAM called Amanda Rayan, owner of Beaches Memorial Park and First Coast Funeral Home, but no one answered and the voice mailbox was full.
The day before the post was made, the I-TEAM talked with the family of Martha Brown about their complaints about Beaches Memorial Park.
Brown's family discovered the vault buried in their mother's plot was not the one they had paid for. It took nearly three hours for the vault to be removed and replaced with the correct one, and then for Brown's casket to be lowered into the ground. The family did not want elderly members and friends to wait, and said there was no choice but to have the committal service performed while Brown's casket was still in the hearse, instead of at the graveside.
During the wait, Beaches Memorial Park offered to transfer Brown's casket into its hearse, but the family refused when it looked inside.
"It was terrible. It had a horrible smell. It was torn in the inside. She didn't deserve this,” said Doris Brown, Martha Brown’s daughter. “My mom deserved to rest in peace."
Brown said she and the family had spotted the cemetery owner’s husband, John Rayan, when they first pulled in for the 11 a.m. service, but said they didn't see him again.
"He didn't apologize to us," said Doris Brown.
Family and friends helped the funeral director representing Beaches Memorial Park lower Brown's casket into the vault, since he could not do it alone.
The family also said they felt they were overcharged by John Rayan. Eddie Brown, Martha Brown's son, said he paid for two vaults and two opening/closing fees for his mother and father years ago.
"My understanding when I paid for it, it paid for everything," he said.
But he said when he met with John Rayan days before his mother's service, he was told he had to pay $1,095 for a vault. Even though Brown has two contracts which show he paid for two vaults, one for his mother and another for his father, he said Rayan told him he would not be able to bury his mother without paying the vault fee.
Eddie Brown told the I-TEAM he felt he had no choice but to pay the money so his mother could be buried next to her husband of 58 years.
"I think he should not have his license," said Brown, who is battling cancer and said his illness and the loss of his mother was hard enough. He said his family should never have been subjected to this kind of treatment.
"Nothing that takes place at Beaches Memorial Park surprises me," said Sarah Carter, funeral director of Sarah Carter's Funeral Home. She was hired by the Brown family to perform the funeral service, but had no control over the actual burial.
She said she has performed several funerals in the last six months that involved burials at Beaches Memorial Park.
"I don't trust John," Carter said. She described the way the families have been treated as “unprofessional, disgraceful and shameful."
The I-TEAM's call to Beaches Memorial Park was not returned. The I-TEAM's email to Amanda Rayan was not returned either.
The I-TEAM will be attending a meeting of the Board of Funeral, Cemetery and Consumer Services in Tallahassee on Thursday, to ask board members and the director of the state office that regulates these kinds of businesses what they may be doing in response to all of these complaints.
The I-TEAM has received 57 complaints about Beaches Memorial Park since our first story aired two months ago.
If anyone has a complaint about Beaches Memorial Park or its sister company, First Coast Funeral Home, they can contact the I-TEAM at email@example.com or 904-479-NEWS.
Anyone who would like to file a complaint with the state’s Division of Funeral, Cemetery and Consumer Services can visit its website.