Cemetery accused of moving graves

September 22, 2009 11:32:23 AM PDT
Attorneys are calling it a case of unbelievable greed. A local family trusted a cemetery to take care of their loved one's remains. Now they're living out their worst fears. Several families have filed law suits against a Houston-based company, alleging their loved ones' remains were discarded or lost as the cemetery made room for new plots.

Service Corporation International based in Houston owns the cemetery Eden Memorial Park in Los Angeles. The Kahlenbergs of Houston say they are devastated. They have visited their parents buried at the Eden Memorial Cemetery since the 1970s. But now they're wondering if the graves are among those disturbed within the last 10 to 15 years.

Dina and Edward Kahlenberg look over their wedding photos, which show her joyful parents. But concerns over their parents' final resting place have left the couple horrified.

"I am very, very angry," Dina said. "I'm very disappointed. I'm very hurt."

Last week, lawyers in California filed a class action lawsuit against the operators of Eden Memorial Park, a Jewish cemetery. The suit alleges cemetery workers damaged and removed vaults in order to sell additional burial plots

Plaintiffs' attorney Michael Avenatti alleged, "They were breaking, according to our investigation, portions of the vaults in an effort to place another vault too close to a vault that was already in the ground, all with the hope, and all under the scheme of placing too many vaults in a designated area."

Service Corporation International which owns the cemetery is based in Houston. Officials would not talk to Eyewitness News on camera. Instead, they issued a statement which read in part, "Allegations against Eden Memorial Park have surfaced as a result of a recently filed class action lawsuit. While very salacious, these allegations are just that ? allegations."

The Kahlenbergs, though, remain extremely worried. They don't know if their parents' graves have been disturbed and fear the worst.

Ed Kahlenberg said, "I did notice the last time we were out that it didn't look right. There was some space where it looked like, gee, they've got a neighbor now."

Ed told me he will be contacting the class action lawsuit attorney to see how he can be involved. In addition, he plans to go to Los Angeles next week, to see if his in-laws' graves have been disturbed.

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