Family claims cemetery lost loved one's body - WFXG FOX 54 - News Now

Family claims cemetery lost loved one's body

Family members say Renisha was supposed to be buried in a vault-less plot on May 2 at Galilee Memorial Gardens on Ellis Road in Bartlett. Family members say Renisha was supposed to be buried in a vault-less plot on May 2 at Galilee Memorial Gardens on Ellis Road in Bartlett.
Joe Johnson, Renisha's father, is too upset to talk about it, so his friend, Gwendolyn Barr, to spoke for him. Joe Johnson, Renisha's father, is too upset to talk about it, so his friend, Gwendolyn Barr, to spoke for him.
Attorney Howard Manis is now investigating the case as Johnson contemplates filing suit against the cemetery. Attorney Howard Manis is now investigating the case as Johnson contemplates filing suit against the cemetery.

(WMC-TV) - Renisha Johnson was shot and killed in her own apartment in late April. The case has not yet been solved. But to make matters worse, her family does not know what happened to her body.

Joe Johnson, Renisha's father, is too upset to talk about it, so his friend, Gwendolyn Barr, to spoke for him.

"I think it's horrible," Barr says. "Because besides the fact there was a tragedy already, he entrusted theme with taking care of her."

Family members say Renisha was supposed to be buried in a vault-less plot on May 2 at Galilee Memorial Gardens on Ellis Road in Bartlett, but since then the cemetery has told them three different locations of her grave. Also, they have yet to provide proof that she is actually in any of them.

"Not be able to go and visit, to not know where she is, it's heartbreaking," Barr says.

Galilee Memorial Gardens has been in the news before. Action News 5 profiled Vicki Jackson when she couldn't find her daughter Voner Matlock's grave in 2011. Soon after, owner and operator Jamar Lambert was arrested and charged with burying bodies on adjacent land that belongs not to the cemetery but to the Fogelman Family Trust, which is a matter also locked up in civil court.

The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, which regulates the funeral and cemetery business, says the cemetery has been "under review" based on 21 complaints. Five of those complaints are still open, and that it currently has "temporary limited authorization registration" that allows it to maintain the grounds and do previously paid for burials but not conduct any new business. That is exactly what Renisha Johnson was.

"First and foremost, my client's family needs answers," said Manis.

Attorney Howard Manis is now investigating the case as Johnson contemplates filing suit against the cemetery. But Manis says it should have never gotten to this point.

"It is compounding the travesty that has happened to this family to find out the state has allowed this to happen," said Manis.

The state says it cannot comment on specific allegations, but that when its review is complete it will make recommendations ranging from financial penalty to license revocation.

Meanwhile Renisha Johnson's family is still hoping to find her.

Copyright 2013 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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