Questions surround abandoned Edwardsville cemetery

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EDWARDSVILLE, IL (KTVI) – Questions are swirling around a troubled cemetery in Edwardsville again.

The grounds at Valley View Cemetery at 157 and Governor’s Parkway are well-kept but there no signs with cemeteries name.  The office looks abandoned.

Cemeteries from here to Kirkwood to Hollywood, CA, are still reeling from a nationwide scandal with the former, St. Louis-based owners in prison.

“I think there’s a special place in hell for somebody that does that, to be truthful,” said Rev. Carl Hackney, pastor of Rosewood Christian Chapel, who said he was in the process of buying the cemetery.

He and his son were in the process of mowing the 30 acre site Monday.

There's new hope the long history of people being swindled at valley are over, he said.

Trouble is people with prepaid burials and their loved ones are still a little lost.

“My brother passed away yesterday,” said Ed Craft of Alhambra, IL.

He remembered his brother’s plot was near his parents’ graves at Valley View.

He couldn’t find it and had no idea who to see about the burial.

“Yeah, we have no idea; apparently nobody; the courts I guess…just another hardship you’ve got to contend with,” he said.

“My sister and her husband have grave sites there,” said Ruth Coffman.

She has four living relatives with plots here.

She’s visiting from North Dakota.  When she recently came to see her parents’ graves, she found the cemetery office abandoned and the signs with the cemetery’s name removed.

“Being from North Dakota and not being here for the last couple of years, I was sort of lost,” she said. “That’s one thing they want to make sure of, that they’ve taken care of all of their plans so their families not burdened with all of that.”

Brent Cassity and his father Doug, past owners of the Forever cemetery and funeral home chain were sentenced to federal prison terms in November of 2013 for taking hundreds of millions of dollars from prepaid funeral plans to finance lavish lifestyles.

Forever Valley View was among their holdings.  Another failed ownership followed.   Hackney says better days are ahead. There have been 16 burials here since February.

“We’ve got the paper work.  If they’ve got a claim, we give them the paperwork.  I sign off on it.  They mail it in to the receiver, the (IL) Comptroller’s office…nobody’s lost a penny on this,” Hackney said.

The cemetery is in receivership, overseen by the Illinois Comptroller's office.

Prepaid burials were being honored but no new plots had been sold since 2008, Hackney said.

If you have questions, call the Illinois Comptroller’s Office at 217-782-6000 or 312-814-2451.

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