BEDFORD, Ind. — Multiple families described deteriorating conditions at a cemetery mausoleum and wondered why the state took years to act on complaints.
Beth Anne Hanover and J.D. Hall both lost a parent in the 1970’s, when they were just teenagers. Each of their parents visited the newly built mausoleum at Cresthaven Funeral Home before their deaths and chose it as their final resting place.
“It was a beautiful mausoleum when it was first built,” Hanover said.
“It was clean, it was well kept. They had furniture that you could sit down (on),” Hall said.
More than 40 years later, Hanover and Hall are concerned about the current state of the mausoleum. Photos provided to CBS4 showed water soaking the carpet, rotting wood, warped walls and mold, among other issues.
“The mold is absolutely awful, you open the door and it hits you right in the face. It’s terrible,” Hanover said.
“I expected that maybe in 100 years or 200 years, you know, I didn’t expect that now,” Hall said.
Suzanne Fountaine’s family also become concerned, after her niece described being unable to enter the mausoleum due to the smell.
“My dad was a doctor, he would never have chosen a place that was what it is now,” Fountaine said.
In Indiana, you’re supposed to file a complaint with a funeral home or cemetery with the Attorney General’s Office, which investigates and takes cases to the Board of Funeral and Cemetery Service, which is run by the Professional Licensing Agency.
Hanover filed a complaint last June, but at the time she and other families did not know that complaints about Cresthaven had already been coming to the state for years.
CBS4’s investigation into state records found that the board placed Cresthaven on indefinite probation in 2015. Last July, the Attorney General’s Office filed a request for the board to take further action, citing family members’ complaints dating back to 2017. The board’s December meeting minutes show that it dismissed the case in a 3-2 vote, due to “hearsay evidence” and a “lack of merit.”
One of the family members named in the request confirmed to CBS4 that he was not told about the board meeting or asked to testify, despite filing his initial complaint about a “lack of repairs and maintenance” at the mausoleum back in 2018.
“I was so upset. It made me cry, because if they would have been present I think some action would’ve been taken,” Hanover said.
CBS4 asked current Cresthaven owner John Sherrill for comment about families’ concerns. Sherrill sent the following statement:
We had severe storms in our area in late April and early May which resulted in a roof drain being clogged with debris that caused water damages to the mausoleum, immediately we contacted a construction company which unclogged the drain and the damages are being repaired. Two trees that were the cause of the debris were removed from the property.
We take consumer concerns very seriously. We addressed the concerns raised in the consumer complaints and the State Board denied the suspension of our license.John Sherrill, Cresthaven Funeral Home and Memory Gardens
Hall paid his own visit to the mausoleum two weeks ago and took photos of areas he believed should be properly assessed and repaired.
“There are letters that are falling off due to the moisture,” Hall said. “This isn’t just a one time issue, this has been going on for a period of time.”
He and other family members wanted to know how this was allowed to happen and why the process they’re supposed to follow took so long to play out.
“Maybe this time, we’ll get heard,” Hanover said.
The Professional Licensing Agency did not return CBS4’s requests for more information. The Indiana Attorney General’s Office declined to comment, but did confirm that it can file another complaint with the board, even though a previous case was dismissed.
For more information about the state’s complaint process for all licensed professions, visit the link here.