PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) – Two Petersburg businesses are offering to help grieving families who called 12 after they paid "Hess-Trigard" for headstones that never made it to the graves.
"Most anybody who watched this story probably felt like they ought to be doing something," said Steve Shultz.
Steve Shultz, V.P. of Southlawn Memorial Park & Mausoleum, says he saw the NBC12 investigative reports last Thursday, about the families demanding a refund from "Hess-Trigard Burial Vaults and Memorials."
"When they walked up to the grave site and there was no memorialization there. You could just see the disappointment in their faces; still grieving," Shultz said.
He says he was moved to taking action, especially by the Tollivers. He has teenage daughters and says the Tollivers murdered child who used her body as a shield to protect a friend was done wrong by Ron Hess, the man customers say they dealt with and Beverly Hess who's listed as company president.
"I just felt like this family was treated wrongly, not that all the others weren't either but this one in particular. The daughter was close to my daughters' ages," Shultz said.
In business for 15 years, Steve Shultz and another company, still unnamed, are looking at ways to share the cost of putting headstones on some, maybe all of the graves. He needs customer receipts and a chance to talk with each family individually.
"I think each one of these families involved in this have a different story and different circumstances," Shultz said.
It won't erase the pain but it may ease the financial difficulties for the dozen families, we know about. He says when one company can damage the image of all, in the industry.
"It does have a ripple effect. The mistrust starts," he said.
I've reached out to Ron and Beverly Hess many times, but they aren't talking about those unhappy customers who paid "Hess-Trigard" for headstones that were never delivered. Petersburg's commonwealth's attorney told me today they haven't charged anyone, but the investigation continues.