Sikeston cemetery controversy - many people still looking for answers

Esther Hann and her family are still waiting for their plaque.
Esther Hann and her family are still waiting for their plaque.
Sikeston cemetery controversy - many people still looking for answers
By: CJ Cassidy
SIKESTON, Mo. - Imagine waiting more than three years to honor the memory of a family member who's passed on, and not knowing if you ever can. It's yet another part of the puzzle in the still unfolding cemetery controversy in Sikeston.
We told you about a Texas company claiming bankruptcy and abandoning two main cemeteries in Sikeston last week. Since then, the Missouri Attorney General's office has authorized city leaders to sell burial plots, but many others say their questions have not been answered.
The state has stricter rules governing funeral homes than they do cemeteries, so try making your pre-need arrangements through a reputable funeral home.
One Sikeston family says they wish they had done that in the first place. "They wanted you to pay in full and I should've paid about half of it, but.they wanted the full down," Esther Hann says.
She explains laying a child to rest is one of the hardest things a parent can do, so when her son died back in 2004, Esther spent her savings buying a plaque for his grave site from Mike Graham and Associates. "One thousand four hundred and fifteen dollars and seven cents," she says holding up a copy of the check she wrote.
The 92-year-old's still waiting on the Texas company to deliver the plaque - three years later. "I'd like to see it down there before I go which could be any minute you know," she says. "It's a shame the public decided to buy caskets and vaults from a picture book from representatives in the cemetery without ever seeing the products," Funeral Director Tom Nunnelee says. He's also worried, his reputation could be on the line.
He says people have confused his chapel with the Texas company. "They had heard all rumors and innuendo -when something like this happens people can have misconceptions," Nunnelee says.
Nunnelee advices getting your records and deeds together if you believe you have a problem.
If you have documentation proving you bought a casket or vault, through Mike Graham and Associates, the Nunnelee Funeral Chapel offers to sell you a similar product at cost.
That's not an option for Esther Hann and her family. She says they can't afford to pay again, even at a discounted price. "It makes a person feel awful after spending that much money," she says.
If you have a complaint about services that weren't delivered, call the Sikeston Department of Public Safety. The Missouri Attorney General's office is also investigating and hopes to have some answers for you soon.