NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) – A family has come forward saying that former funeral director took their money and can’t give their grandmother a proper goodbye.
When Timothy O’Neal’s family walks up to his grandmother’s grave, the only reminder that she’s there is a little angel and a plastic cemetery vase. No headstone.
“He needs to do what’s right and let me mark the grave where my grandmother is buried,” O’ Neal said.
He, is Reid Van Ness, who is a former funeral director. O’Neal said the problem started with her obituary.
“He had the death certificate wrong. The obituary had wrong names on it,” O’Neal said.
Then, there’s his grandmother’s grave. O’Neal said his family raised nearly $10,000.00 to pay Van Ness for the funeral and grave plot.
O’Neal even signed an internment order and authorization note, a form allowing her to be buried at the cemetery. But over a year has gone by, and O’Neal still can’t get the plot officially turned over to him.
“I gave a lot of money, and it’s not right,” O’Neal said.
“They never paid! That boy never paid!” Van Ness told News4.
Van Ness refused our repeated requests for an on-camera interview. Still, he told News 4 over the phone the O’Neal’s paid him for the services and burial. However, he said they did not pay for the plot, which meant the owner of the plot, James Turnbull, was never paid. Van Ness and Turnbull are long-time friends.
“We agreed upon a prince, and it never came,” Turnbull said.
“He did not make the payments to me or Mr. Turnbull for the space. If I were Mr. Turnbull, I’d dig her ass up and set her on the ground,” Van Ness said.
O’Neal said he was told by Turnbull and Van Ness everything was included.
“It makes me want to find him and do things to him that I’m not able to say on TV,” O’Neal said.
The Call 4 Action has investigated Reid Van Ness before. He’s facing two federal lawsuits against him for not properly caring for deceased bodies and shipping them home to their families overseas until several months later.
Families and loved ones from Tennessee to Latin America are devastated after learning the bodies of their loved ones were not buried the way they wanted.
“Considering cases that’s filed against him over the Hispanic families going on, it does not surprise me at all,” O’Neal said.
O’Neal wants to see a tombstone at his grandmother’s grave and for Van Ness and Turnbull to answer his calls.
“For him to say it was not paid for if it wasn’t paid for, she shouldn’t be buried here. The money is paid. She’s buried, so I need to mark the grave!” O’Neal said.
The state is still investigating O’Neal’s complaint and others against Mr. Van Ness.
Mr. Van Ness formerly worked as a funeral director and embalmer. He surrendered his license in March last year.
Consumer experts tell News4 that in a situation like this, never pay with cash. Instead, get receipts on everything and document the situation every step of the way. Preferably see if you can sign a contract. Do whatever you need to do to make sure there’s a paper trail.