On Your Side Investigation: Veteran's headstone missing after pa - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL


On Your Side Investigation: Veteran's headstone missing after paid for 30 years ago

Source: WBRC video Source: WBRC video
Source: WBRC video Source: WBRC video

For more than 50 years, Frank and Jackie Benefield were inseparable.

"He loved me in spite of my faults. Every time I was sick, he took care of me and when he got sick, I did my best to take care of him. It's hard, even though it's been three months,” Jackie said about her husband who passed away four months ago.

Over 30 years ago, Frank Benefield purchased a grave marker for he and his wife.That was 1981. It was paid in full in 1984.

When Frank passed away in December, Greenhill Memorial Gardens cemetery in Childersburg told Jackie they couldn't find the headstone.

"I said, 'what do you mean, you can't find the marker? The marker has been there for years.' They had told us they were using it for a display model,” Jackie said.

The Benefield's have paperwork showing they paid the marker in full as well as the plot and vault. The VA did furnish a footstone. The family says the cemetery put it down as Frank's headstone instead. The family also paid for the upkeep of the grave.

Frank's daughter Brittany can't believe the actual headstone is missing.

"So wherever the headstone is, the current owners of Green Hill Memorial Cemetery, Ellison funeral home from Clanton, they're responsible for making sure that my family gets what they paid for,” Swain said.

No one answered when we took our questions to the cemetery’s office.

We called Ellison Funeral Home in Clanton looking for the owner Aaron Ellison. Over the phone, he said he's working with the family to replace the headstone.

Ellison sent us this statement:

Upon learning of the situation in regards to the Benefield headstone, Green Hill Memorial Gardens’ staff has worked to correct the issue. Ideally our staff would have liked to have located the headstone that was purchased over 30 years ago from a previous owner. Our staff searched many records and many sites attempting to locate the memorial. After exhausting all possible leads to locate the original memorial, GreenHill Memorial Gardens has agreed to provide a new memorial at no cost to the Benefield family. We are sorry that this situation has occurred from a previous owner, but in our commitment to the community, are glad to make this situation right to the Benefield family. We look forward to meeting with Mrs. Benefield and family in the coming days to finalize a replacement memorial to honor the life of their loved one.

The family has contacted the Attorney General's office and Better Business Bureau. They want what they paid for. Jackie says Frank, who served in the Army, deserves it.

"He was a fine Christian man. He deserves better Josh and they seem like they aren't doing anything to help. Except say we don't know where it is. Well, it’s their place to find where it is,” Jackie added.

Jackie is hoping the owner follows through with his promise. She says she’ll keep us updated.

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