Cemetery owner charged with abuse of a corpse - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Cemetery owner charged with abuse of a corpse

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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BARTLETT, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Disrespecting the dead.

A Bartlett cemetery owner is accused of burying multiple bodies in the same grave, to save space.

38 year old Jemar Lambert was arrested Friday, charged with theft and abuse of a corpse. He owns the Galilee Memorial Gardens Cemetery.

The area is now a crime scene. No one can be buried there, and no one can visit their loved ones if they are buried there right now.

Lambert has been in trouble with the law before – accused of burying bodies on someone else's land.

According to court documents the cemetery has been operating without the proper paperwork since 2010. And now, the cemetery still has obligations for 200 more burial plots. But, it's been completely full for years. Now the state is stepping in to get things back in order for the families of those buried there.

"Well I need to know, can I use my grave that I paid all that money for years ago? Open, closed, paid for, marble paid for and all?" said Andy Payne, who is one of 200 people who are supposed the have loved ones buried there. Now, all those plans are up in the air. "Well, they still out there. I don't feel no different because they already buried," said Payne, when he went by the cemetery Friday afternoon.

"The cemetery is closed for now until we can execute the search warrant, get out of there what we need pursuant to that search warrant," said District Attorney Amy Weirich. Authorities were combing the scene Friday, looking for evidence. "There was concern of bodies not being located where they should've been or records indicated they were," said Weirich.

Court documents say problems with the cemetery emerged last year when a family member went to visit a loved one and couldn't find the grave. To this day, the grave hasn't been found. Lambert is accused of burying two or more bodies in the same grave and burying bodies so close together that caskets were damaged.

The state is stepping in to bring things back in order, sending a representative to help get the cemetery back into compliance.

If you have a funeral scheduled to take place at Galilee Memorial Gardens Cemetery, or have concerns about a loved one buried there, you can call the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance at 615-741-5062.

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