RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The former operator of Hess-Trigard, Incorporated is indicted on 52 felony counts. More than a dozen grieving families called 12 on Your Side after they paid for monuments...some priced as high as $3,000. The markers were never installed on their loved one's grave.
Petersburg Commonwealth's Attorney Cassandra Conover says investigators amassed a large amount of evidence, and a direct indictment was the quickest way to get Ronald Dean Hess in court.
Hess is free on $10,000 bond. He was released from Riverside Regional Jail following the April indictment on 52 felony counts, including 26 counts of grand larceny and obtaining money by false pretenses.
"When he gets to trial I want to see justice served to the fullest," said Phylis Tolliver.
We met the Tollivers at their murdered daughter's grave. They gave Hess-Trigard partial payment for Jessica's headstone, agreeing to pay the balance upon delivery.
Two other companies installed the monument you see there for free after seeing my initial investigative reports. The Tollivers never got their money back or the marker and, say they haven't felt comfort until now.
"I know my daughter has a smile on her face right now. She's really smiling, I know she is. Ha. Ha... The first time I smiled in a long time," Orlando Tolliver said.
Hess-Trigard Burial Vaults and Memorials operated on South Crater Road in Petersburg. The building is now in the hands of the bank.
We located 30 of the paid for tombstones at a granite company in Georgia and we've helped some grieving families get their monuments. The business owner says Hess-Trigard owes him about $10,000. No one's certain about restitution.
"There's something about when the jail house doors are rattling, and you know you might serve time, folks find money," said Kyle Brenna, Owner of Everlasting Granite Memorial Company.
Wendy Crump paid Hess-Trigard $1,100. She wants closure and justice served.
"It will be a little closure but then again when we go to court, that will be the final closure with Mr. Hess Trigard," she said. "What he did was very wrong. He should not have carried any of us through this."
Ronald Hess appears in court tomorrow, for a hearing to determine whether a lawyer needs to be appointed for him.