I-Team Investigates: Grave Disappointment in Butler County - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

I-Team Investigates: Grave Disappointment in Butler County

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Bradley Hodge was on his way to school when he was killed in a crash. Bradley Hodge was on his way to school when he was killed in a crash.
His parents say they ordered a $2,300 headstone through the cemetery. His parents say they ordered a $2,300 headstone through the cemetery.
Gina Hodge says Devon Scott told her he would take care of it since his mom, the cemetery's owner, died.. Gina Hodge says Devon Scott told her he would take care of it since his mom, the cemetery's owner, died..
Crystal Britt couldn't get anyone to return her calls. Crystal Britt couldn't get anyone to return her calls.
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BUTLER COUNTY, MO (KFVS) -

Update: Since KFVS 12 ran this story on Thursday April 25, 2013, seven more families have come forward.

Crystal Britt was also able to reach the official owner, Kyle Yarber, on the phone who said he inherited the cemetery. He would not comment on the accusations.

Matthews International, the monument company that the cemetery orders from is now conducting its own investigation.

 

Closure, is it too much to ask?

Two Butler County families came to us demanding answers, as they felt robbed in their darkest hours.

On September 7, 2010 16-year-old Bradley Hodge was on his way to school.

"He ran off the right side of the road, over-corrected and hit a tree," said Gina Hodge-Bradley's Mother.   

He died instantly.

"My oldest son and I came up on it minutes after it happened," said Gina Hodge.    

Bradley is buried at Memorial Gardens Cemetery outside of Poplar Bluff.        

His parents say they ordered a $2,300 headstone through the cemetery.     

Gina Hodge says she paid half up front, and then the rest in October.

"She (the owner) told me since we were having a picture put on it that it would take time," said Gina Hodge. "I expected that by Christmas it would be there."    

The cemetery owner, Carolyn Yarber, died last March.     

Gina Hodge says Yarber's step-son came to her saying he had taken over.

"He wanted to let me know and be honest with me that she never ordered the headstone," said Hodge.    

She couldn't believe it.

"I was devastated she just took my money, and to me that was robbery," said Hodge.    

Gina Hodge says Devon Scott told her he would take care of it.

"He promised me by Christmas it would be in and set," said Hodge.    

It's now April, and still no headstone.

"Since then I haven't spoken to him (Scott), I've left messages and he won't return my calls," said Hodge.   

I, Crystal Britt, couldn't get anyone to return my calls either.

I continued to call, and even went to Devon Scott's house where no one answered.

The only communication I've had so far from anyone from Memorial Gardens has been via text message with Devon Scott.     

He said he's not the owner of the cemetery and that Carolyn's other son Kyle Yarber is.

My calls to Kyle Yarber have not been returned.

Devon Scott did make one mention in relation to the Hodge marker.     

He sent me a text message saying that he went through a company called Matthews International, and got confirmation on the Hodge headstone back in January.     

Matthews representatives couldn't talk to me about it for confidentiality reasons, but I'm told it shouldn't take more than two months to get a headstone made, and then set.     

Again, for the Hodge's it's been more than two and a half years.

"I can't imagine I'm the only person who went through this," said Gina Hodge.     

And, she's not.

"It's hard to think people would do that," said Ronald Stage.    

Ronald Stage of Poplar Bluff also feels ripped off.     

He lost his wife in October of 2010.

"She had a stroke, and didn't live long after that," said Stage.    

Anna Stage is also buried at Memorial Gardens.

Right after her death, Ronald Stage says he ordered a double headstone.

"I paid down, and finished paying it off in August," said Stage.        

He showed me the receipt and payment plan. It's marked, paid in full-August of 2012.

"He (Devon Scott) assured me it would be there before bad weather set in," said Stage.    

Nine months later and still no headstone, or answers.

"They said they'd call me back and that never happened," said Stage.    

Now Ronald Stage is dying. He's in the final stages of COPD. 

"I don't have very much longer to go," said Stage.

He wants this solved before it's his time.

"All I want is my marker on my grave," said Stage.            

As much as they don't want to see their son's name on a grave, the Hodge's know they need that conclusion.

"That's going to be a tough obstacle that I, and we as a family need to overcome," said Gina Hodge. "We can't have that closure until that stone is there and set."

The Hodge family filed a claim in Small Claims Court.

The complaints are starting to roll into the Attorney General's office, and also the Butler County Sheriff's Office.

We're told there may be even more victims.

If you or someone you know has been impacted, let us know. Send a message to cbritt@kfvs12.com

There is also a memorial account set up to help the Hodge family get a headstone for their son. Those interested in making a donation can contact the 1st Midwest Bank in Poplar Bluff.

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