Funeral theft sentence a reminder to residents

Posted by: Melissa Johnson - bio | email

DOTHAN, AL (WSFA) - Raymond Matheson enjoys spending the day at Sunset Memorial Park, the cemetery he knows will be his final resting place.

But it's a peace that has been stripped away from neighbors in his own community.

Matheson said, "It's just a shame that people would take advantage of situations like this to fatten their own pocket."

Wednesday, David Meadows, former owner of Kent-Thornton Meadows Funeral Home in Dothan pleaded guilty to stealing from customers and received a 10-year prison sentence.

Houston County Coroner, and funeral home owner himself, Robert Byrd, said when things like this happen, it's a black eye to his entire industry.

But for Raymond Matheson, hearing about Meadows' story, hits close to home.

Matheson said, "My father-in-law had pre-arranged all of his funeral arrangements, but the funeral home where he lived in Florida, took all of his money.  So, when we buried him, it cost us twice as much as what he had already paid."

After dealing with a family member's stolen prepaid funeral arrangements, Matheson knew, he wasn't leaving anything to chance when it came time to plan his own funeral arrangements.

He said, he made sure he did business with someone he trusted and someone who had a long-standing reputable company.  His advice to others -- "If you have even a little bit of hesitation, don't do it."

Keith Stowers, who is also pre-planning his funeral arrangements, agrees.

Stowers said, "It's just like you're going to do contracting of a home, you have to check in and make sure that's a reliable organization."

Byrd said, "The old saying that you get what you pay for is true.  If the deal sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.  Make sure you do your homework, talk to your neighbors, and just make an informed decision.  That's the best that you can do."

Reminding all of us that the "buyer beware" warning, even applies to the final details in life.

David Meadows has since moved to Georgia.

Ward Wilson Funeral Home bought his client's business, and they will honor all those pre-planned funerals.

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