Exploring Almost Forgotten Gravesites in the Great State of Ohio

Dedicated to cemetery preservation in the great state of Ohio

"A cemetery may be considered as abandoned when all or practically all of the bodies have been Removed therefrom and no bodies have been buried therein for a great many years, and the cemetery has been so long neglected as entirely to lose its identity as such, and is no longer known, recognized and respected by the public as a cemetery. 1953 OAG 2978."

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Belmont County Memorial Park update on the first day of the trial of the co-defendant

Sharing a link to this updated article about the Belmont County Memorial Park that is published online by "The Times Leader" in Martins Ferry, Ohio.  
Story by Robert A. DeFrank.

"ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The trial of the second co-defendant accused of stealing almost $300,000 from the Belmont Memorial Park Cemetery while serving as its caretaker began Tuesday before Belmont County Common Pleas Judge John Vavra.
Keith Dwayne Baratie, 51, of 121 Newell Ave., St. Clairsville, is accused of one count of forgery, one count of aggravated theft and one count of securing writing by deception.
His wife and co-defendant, Karen Sue Ellen Neff, was found guilty of the same charges and sentenced Monday to four and one-half years in prison and restitution of $282,240 to the cemetery, now the responsibility of Richland Township. She was found guilty after a four-day trial, in which extensive financial records were reviewed by the jury. During her sentencing hearing, Neff maintained that she and Baratie were the legitimate successors to the association." 
An observation
After reading various stories these past few years about cemeteries in Ohio -- and elsewhere -- that have been impacted by owners who commit crimes against them, it has become evident that the majority of those cemeteries are owned and operated by private associations or by larger conglomerate type owners who purchased cemeteries all across America, including Puerto Rico.   

The names of these cemeteries offer us a revealing tip off about their ownership.:
 "Memorial Park" or "Memorial Gardens", or 
"Memory Park"or "Memory Gardens"
are popular names for these cemeteries which are private cemetery association owned cemeteries (as opposed to being owned and operated by a municipality like a city, village, or township. Or a cemetery under the ownership of a religious society.)   
We can note that the word "Cemetery" is not included in their official name. Nor is it posted on the sign by the entrance.
  Quite often the gravesites at these cemeteries are mandated to have flat markers; sometimes only bronze plaque type markers.  Thus, there are limited options for the lot owner to choose from to mark their gravesite. 
Some important places to check are the Better Business Bureau, and the Ohio Cemetery Dispute Resolution Commission to learn if there are any outstanding complaints against the owners of a cemetery you are considering for yourself or your loved ones.
And, last but certainly not least, please do your homework by doing a simple "Google" search for the cemetery. Through these types of searches it can be learned if there have been any recent media reports posted online about it.