JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A local family is mourning the death of a beloved grandmother, but their grief is also being mixed with outrage.
At their biggest moment of weakness, they found themselves paying the same money twice. We went right to the chairman for answers and even found out, there is more than one family having this problem.
The organization that owns the cemetery even had to write a letter explaining the situation. Families still can't understand why this is happening.
Not a day goes by that Brendreka Leach doesn't think about her grandmother Eliza. She passed away in April.
Before her death, Eliza thought she was making things easier for her family. "My grandma worked hard to pay and make sure we didn't have to pay when we had to bury her," said Leach.
She started paying for her grave site at Restlawn Memorial Park in 1976. "It was completely paid off in 1993," said Leach.
She has the receipts to prove it, but Bendreka got a big surprise when she went to the cemetery. "I still had to pay $1,645," said Leach.
It turns out the new owners of Restlawn can't honor the pre-needs contract Brendreka's grandmother paid for. "All that she did, it's like she did it for nothing," said Leach.
So we went to find out why. Harold Rollinson is chairman of the board for Southside Christian Charities. The non profit organization bought the cemetery in 2007, but it's not licensed to fulfill pre-needs contracts. "I think there's an issue they need to understand. It's confusing. People see us here and think we are the license holder and we are not," said Rollinson.
Rollinson says at first they still buried people, but have never received the 250 thousand dollars to cover those costs. So they stopped, forcing families like Brendreka's to come up with extra money at a time when they're grieving. Brendreka says she's not giving up on the fight. "I'm going to fight until the end. It's not fair," said Leach.
There is a legal case going on in the court system in Duval County right now. The chairman couldn't talk about many of the details. Families like the Leach's do hope the case will allow them to get back some of the money.
Families are being told to contact Funeral Services Incorporated, which is the license holder. We have contacted FSI in Tallahassee about this issue, but have not heard back from them yet.