5 on Your Side: Michael Bess' missing headstone

9:45 PM, Aug 23, 2012   |    comments
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St. Louis (KSDK) - Bellefontaine Cemetery boasts big names like William Clark of Lewis and Clark and Adolphus.

The name Michael Bess may not mean much to most, but it sure is important to Dawn Bess.

"He was just a fun, fun guy and he always looked out for me," said Dawn.

So fun, Dawn even wrote about him in grade school.

"Family member of the week," Dawn read from the old school report. "He is my favorite uncle," she continued. "He runs and works in his own restaurant and his favorite sport is motorcycle riding."

Michael's death in December was hard. Also hard, eight months later his final resting place is still not properly marked, even though Dawn paid for a headstone in full, almost $700.

"I'm sad because he deserves better than that," she said.

Dawn says Schaefer Monument originally told her it would be around six months.

"I just assumed they were working on it, everything was fine. I hadn't heard from them, they hadn't called me with any problems. So I came out on his birthday on August 10th and found this hole," she said.

So what's the holdup? In a recent conversation Bess says she had with Schaefer Monument, they said the reason they haven't put the headstone in is because the cemetery hadn't put in the foundation for the headstone and it would be October before they can. But in reality, the foundation was poured in April, long enough to grow weeds around it.

"I just need a time frame. I need to know what's going on. I need to know the truth," said Dawn.

5 on your Side's Mike Rush found the truth with a visit to Schaefer Monument.

[Rush]: "I think that would be disappointing to her to find out you guys hadn't even started on it."

"I apologize for that, but, like I said, we're a year behind right now," said Rick Schaefer, one of the owners.

Schaefer says the backlog is because of illnesses in the family and an influx of business.

He also says he didn't know the foundation was there until Rush told him. Now that he knows, he says he'll get right on it.

"We weren't scamming her," said Schaefer. "We've been here over 55 years, we're not going to go nowhere."

Dawn is just glad work on her uncle's headstone is going somewhere.

"This is our loved ones, this is our family. This isn't just some stranger. I'm not buying a warranty on a car," she said.

Schaefer says the headstone will be in place by Friday.

If you have a problem, let us know about it by visiting our 5 on Your Side section.


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