GETTYSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A Midstate cemetery sits in disrepair, with piles of dirt and tire tracks dotting the landscape.
Now, families want answers.
Family members say the grave sites simply aren’t being taken care of, and some worry plots they’ve already bought might not be honored when the time comes.
“I’ve had at least 30 or 40 phone calls,” said Adams County Sheriff Jim Muller. He didn’t come to Oak Lawn Memorial Gardens in any official capacity; his office is not investigating.
“The place isn’t being taken care of whatsoever,” he said.
He was there because his parents are there, now surrounded by piles of dirt, tracks dug into and over memorials, and broken markers.
“It means a lot,” Muller said. “I mean, this is supposed to be a sacred place. … It’ll end up looking like a dump ’til he’s done with it.”
Muller was referring to the new property owner, Ramesh Rao. He bought the land at a tax sale earlier this year.
ABC 27 News was not able to get in touch with him Monday, but in a letter to a local funeral home, his lawyer writes Rao did not buy the cemetery — just the land.
“He is not required to continue the cemetery operations of Oak Lawn,” the letter states. “Furthermore, because Mr. Rao is not licensed, he cannot operate a cemetery.”
The letter states he’s trying to find another cemetery operator to take over.
But they’re not just aesthetic concerns among families.
One man worried his mom won’t have a spot next to his dad, a plot she’s already paid for.
“That’s enough on the family the way it is right now. There’s enough sorrow and grief going on, and then you have to deal with this on top of it,” Muller said. “And it’s not right.”
The previous owner, James Delaney, filed for bankruptcy, so Rao’s lawyer wrote any prepaid plots “are under the control of the Bankruptcy Court.”
Delaney declined to answer any questions when reached by phone Monday afternoon.
Muller, along with a number of other families, is also involved on the financial side of the equation: His wife’s aunt was laid to rest here this week.
“Her aunt, bless her heart,” he said, “she did her best to take the worry and stuff off of the rest of her family. She knew that when she died, she was taken care of.”
Muller said her family had to pay for a vault a second time. “I’d like to see somebody step up and do what’s right,” he said.
“If you want to argue back and forth between the lawyers until you get it settled, that’s one thing. But in the meantime, there’s people that need to be taken care of.”Get breaking news, weather and traffic on the go. Download the ABC 27 News App and the ABC 27 Weather App for your phone or tablet.