A North Carolina, couple is speaking out after learning that a monument company reportedly repossessed their 5-year-old son’s grave marker.
Crystal and Wayne Leatherman of Hickory buried Jake almost a year ago after he lost a long battle with leukemia. However, Crystal told WBTV that she recently went to her son’s grave and was shocked to find that the marker was removed.
Now, the couple is demanding answers from Southeastern Monument company, who they say took the grave marker following a financial dispute.
“He repossessed it like it was a car,” the heartbroken mother said.
The owner of the company, Reverend J.C. Shoaf, 73, told the local station that the Leathermans originally paid in full for the marker but requested several changes which increased the bill.
The Baptist minister told the The Charlotte Observer that the revisions made the marker 400 pounds heavier and would cost the family an additional $2,500. The Leathermans said they were never informed that the modifications would add to the bill.
Sloaf also claimed he placed the marker at Jake’s grave without full payment out of sympathy for the grieving parents. Now, he says he regrets doing that and repossessing the grave—something he’s never done in his 56 years of business.
“I hated to do it. I’m not heartless and I have had a child die, so I know how it feels. But what was I to do?” Shoaf said. “I thought having [the marker] would give me some leverage. In hindsight, I should have just written it up as a bad debt.”
On Tuesday, WBAL reported that Shoaf said he’ll return the marker at no expense to the family.
“We’d like very much so to return the grave marker back to Woodlawn Cemetery and give our appreciation to the media for helping us get this resolved, that the family would not owe us anything, we will mark their bill paid in full,” Shoaf said in a statement where he asked for the Leathermans’ forgiveness.
“We waive all expenses from the Leatherman family. If there are any charges to be paid to the cemetery to have this reinstalled, we will pay all expenses for doing that, and we’re sorry this has happened.”
[Featured Image: WKRN (screenshot)]