ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Members of a local family were finally able to lay their loved one to rest Saturday after having arrived at an Atlantic Beach cemetery the day before for the burial, only to find that no one had dug the grave.
Beaches Memorial Park cemetery has been the subject of a months-long investigation by I-TEAM investigators after receiving more than 60 complaints from families who accuse the owner of disgracing the dead.
Carol Lloyd's family held her funeral service at a local church Friday, but when her loved ones tried to lay her to rest, no one was at the cemetery.
Back in 2005, the Lloyd family paid $1,895 for two plots at Beaches Memorial Park, but when they arrived almost 11 years later to bury Lloyd, the plot was untouched.
“It was all a pack of lies, is what it was,” Carol Lloyd’s husband Victor Lloyd said.
The Lloyd family tried to contact the cemetery’s owner, but when they didn’t answer, Lloyd's family called the I-TEAM for help.
I-TEAM investigators called the state agency that regulates cemeteries. The agency was able to reach the owners who said the equipment they use to dig graves was broken.
Friday night, I-TEAM investigators saw someone drive a backhoe into the cemetery to dig the grave.
I-TEAM investigators spoke with Michelle Ohmart, director of Eternal Funeral Home (unrelated to Beaches Memorial Park or First Coast Funeral Home), who said the cemetery worker who opens and closes graves at Beaches Memorial Park told her Saturday morning that he had no idea there was a service Friday.
The cemetery worker wasn’t notified until 5 p.m. Friday to dig the grave, Ohmart said.
“I think it's a disgrace for them to put the family through this. They've been through enough and I'm glad it got done today to give them a little bit of closure and let them start grieving,” Ohmart said.
On Saturday, Lloyd’s family was able to finally say goodbye to their wife and grandmother.
“We are just glad to have her buried today,” son-in-law Phillip Harrell said.
Beaches Memorial Park’s license to sell contracts for future burials has been suspended by the state, according to officials. Their license expired Friday and was not renewed by the owners.
If anyone has a complaint about Beaches Memorial Park or its sister company, First Coast Funeral Home, they can contact the I-TEAM at firstname.lastname@example.org or 904-479-NEWS.
Anyone who would like to file a complaint or has questions can visit the state’s Division of Funeral, Cemetery and Consumer Services website or call the division at 850-413-3039, or Toll Free in Florida at 800-323-2627.