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FOX 13 Investigates: Utah headstone company stops filling orders, graves are left unmarked

Posted at 9:33 PM, Dec 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-06 23:46:57-05

BOUNTIFUL, Utah — Byron Sessions Jr. is buried here at the city cemetery, though you might not be able to tell that.

His grave is unmarked. The headstone Sessions purchased before his death hasn’t been installed.

“It’s black,” said Sessions’ daughter, Shelley Snyder, “and it has all of his grandkids’ names engraved on the back of it.”

After Sessions died in September at age 76 and was buried with military honors to recognize his service in the Air Force, Snyder tried to contact the company with the headstone – Nationwide Monument, of Ogden.

Months later, Snyder still doesn’t have the marker.

“The silly thing to me is it’s complete,” Snyder said. “It’s paid for. All they have to do is just hand it over.”

Snyder is one of at least a dozen Nationwide Monument customers across the country who have contacted FOX 13 or posted online in recent weeks saying they paid the company for headstones that have not been delivered. The customers say Nationwide Monument has stopped returning their calls and emails.

Nationwide Monument didn’t respond to inquiries from FOX 13 either. When a reporter and photographer visited the company’s offices in Ogden, there were still headstones in the showroom and an adjacent, fenced lot, but no one could be seen inside and no one answered knocks.

The landlord posted on the showroom door on eviction notice dated Nov. 27. The notice told Nationwide Monument to be off the premises in three days.

The eviction notice names Nationwide and 43-year-old Jeremiah B. Anderson. He is on Utah’s sex offender registry for a 2007 conviction of attempted sodomy of a child.

Anderson was still on parole when in April of this year prosecutors charged him with new counts of rape, sodomy and other crimes. He’s accused of meeting a 16-year-old girl on a dating site and paying her $300 for sex.

While he awaits trial in that case, Anderson’s parole has been revoked. He’s currently in the Utah State Prison.

Lashundra Anderson, of Memphis, Tenn., and who is no relation to the executive from Nationwide Monument, said the silence from the company leaves her feeling “like you have been ripped off during the grieving process.”

Lashundra Anderson needed a headstone after her 17-year-old nephew Cameron Edwards died in a car crash in March. Then in May, the teen’s father – Anderson’s brother – Reginald Anderson, was killed in a homicide.

“They’re buried side by side,” Lashundra Anderson said, “and I purchased one headstone with both of their names.”

Lashundra Anderson went online to purchase her headstone from Nationwide Monument. Her receipt shows she paid $1,044. She said that was the price for the finished headstone and shipping.

There’s no record of Nationwide Monument taking bankruptcy. The company’s website says it’s been in business since 2013. Nationwide Monument had solid reviews online – until recently.

As of Thursday, Nationwide Monument’s website said it was still in business. Snyder visited the company a few weeks after her father died.

“I was trying to look through the fence,” Snyder said, “to look to see if I could see my dad’s monument and I couldn’t. And then a guy came out the door. And so I asked him, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’

“The guy says, ‘Oh, no we’re still in business. We’re back there working. We just closed the show room for COVID.’”

The employee, Snyder said, said someone would return her messages. Snyder said no one has.

“The first thing that you want to do, once you realize you’ve been scammed,” said Britta Clark, the spokeswoman for the Better Business Bureau serving Utah and Northern Nevada, “is contact your bank or your credit card company to start the process of getting your money back.”

Getting any money back could be difficult for people like Snyder, who is representing a deceased customer who paid years ago. Snyder has records showing her father paid at least $1,200 beginning in 2011 to buy his headstone from another company. Then in 2018, the records show, her father paid Nationwide Monument at least $400 more to take possession of the stone and engrave his date of death and install the marker when it was time.

Clark also suggests customers like Snyder and Lashundra Anderson file complaints with the Better Business Bureau, the state office of consumer protection and the Federal Trade Commission.

“Sometimes we encourage our consumers to go to the local police department,” Clark said, “and if you call and start a case and often times they will send officers out to the business.”

Lashundra Anderson said she’d prefer a refund instead of her family’s finished headstone. She doesn’t want to deal with Nationwide Monument anymore.

“I was actually going to just go ahead and just order another marker here locally,” she said, “but I’m kind of waiting just to see what happens.”

Snyder wants the monument her father picked out.

“It’s hard to go through losing a father,” Snyder said, “and struggling with the insurance company, and it just seems like one thing after another.

“And, yeah, I’m sad.”

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