Couple receives refund after issue with Henrico cemetery

A Henrico couple getting resolution after an issue with Forest Lawn Cemetery
Published: Oct. 3, 2023 at 8:51 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 4, 2023 at 1:48 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A Henrico couple is thankful to reach a resolution after spending thousands for plots at Forest Lawn Cemetery.

“We [planned] so that this burden would not be left on [our daughter],” explained Beverly Harrell. “You know, she’s an only child, too. She has a whole family to take care of.”

Married for 37 years and hoping to plan ahead, the Harrell’s chose Forest Lawn as a final resting place in 2019. They began paying towards a more than $12,000 balance for plots and headstones.

“There was a headstone out here in 2019, right after we purchased the plots,” said Melvin Harrell.

Just days after making a final payment to the cemetery in June 2023, the Harrells say a representative from Forest Lawn called them asking for a meeting.

“So when we get in [the office], we are presented with this piece of paper. It is saying we had requested a transfer of lots plots. I said, no, we didn’t request nothing,” said Melvin Harrell.

He said they could not get an answer when they asked for a reason behind the transfer and for clarification about new plots and where their headstones were located.

“After we paid this thing off in full, you mean to tell somebody is buried in our plot?” he said. “I question them as to whether [there was an issue] before we bought it. During the time we was paying on it, nobody could tell me. I talked to two people in the home office and asked them to refund us. [I said], if they can’t do no better, than I do not want to do business with them anymore. They said they will continue to investigate.”

The Harrells say the investigation continued to lead to no answers, so they called 12 On Your Side.

The On Your Side investigators contacted Everstory Partners, who owns Forest Lawn. After several e-mails, a representative wrote the following:

“Thank you for reaching out. I just checked in with leadership, and we have processed a full refund for this family.”

Beverly Harrell says a Regional Vice President called them to confirm the company would give them the entire amount back. The Harrells eventually received a check for the amount they spent four years paying.

“I would encourage [folks] to know who they are getting involved with, do some background checking with the place they are buying the plots, who it belongs to,” said Melvin Harrell.