Making things right at Galilee cemetery will be long process - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Making things right at Galilee cemetery will be long process

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

It's been over a month since Shelby County authorities uncovered the ugly truth at Galilee Memorial Gardens cemetery in Bartlett.

Bodies misplaced and missing. Caskets crushed and graves in bad shape. They closed it down, shutting out the families of those buried there.
 
The owner of that cemetery, 38-year-old Jemar Lambert, is being held without bond, accused of burying bodies on someone else's property and stacking caskets on top of each other when he ran out of space.
 
MORE: Kustoff named deputy receiver of Galilee Memorial cemetery
MORE: Bond revoked for Bartlett cemetery owner
MORE: State granted request to take over troubled cemetery
MORE: $100M lawsuit filed against cemetery, funeral homes

District Attorney General Amy Weirich and the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance held a news conference Friday about the progress of their ongoing investigations, telling the public this is far from over.

Many families are affected by this. Officials have received over 1,000 calls from families with someone buried at Galilee. DAG Weirich stressed though, this will be a long process, with no end in sight at least for the near future.

Galilee Memorial Gardens has been closed since January.
 
Authorities say they can't give a timeline as to when families will be allowed back in to see their loved ones, only saying the cemetery will remain closed until it's safe for the public to return.

The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance has stepped in to get the finances and records at Galilee in order, taking receivership earlier this month, and attorney David Kustoff has been appointed deputy receiver in the case.

Kustoff toured the cemetery for the first time this week. He said he it is in bad condition and will need a lot of money to bring it back to where it needs to be. Money from the Lambert family that may or may not be there.

The state is focusing on first finding the cemetery's assets and then turning those over to the courts. While officials say they understand the families' urgency in getting access to the cemetery, they need to finish their investigations first.

"As sacred is this ground is to thousands of families in Shelby County, it may sound callous but our view of that cemetery is as a crime and because of that we have to treat it as such," DAG Weirich said.

As Lambert faces criminal charges in this case, his family and several local funeral homes are facing three separate class action lawsuits, totaling over $300 million.

If you are affected by the closure of Galilee, you're asked to call the district attorney's office. They've set up a hotline especially for this case. The number is 901-222-1308.

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