Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Help Me Howard: Where's My Crypt?
Those people we all call 'they' say, you need to buy a grave site when you get older. Many people do. Then, one South Florida man went to check on his crypt and found out that he didn't own it anymore. Can he get it back so he can be buried next to his wife? It's why he called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Evelyn and Bob Horvath were married for 40 years.
She was a beautiful woman. An even better person.
Bob Horvath, Missing His Crypt: "To me, a princess, Grace Kelly-type. Very sophisticated. Just unbelievable."
Tracy Horvath Bazon, Upset about Crypt: "She was my best friend. I still miss her every day."
Nineteen years ago, Tracy's mother lost her battle with cancer.
And for the last 19 years, Bob has been coming to visit Evelyn at her grave site: Talking to her, fully expecting one day to be buried in the crypt next to her.
Tracy Horvath Bazon: "I said to my dad, 'It's been 19 years. Maybe we should go and make sure everything is OK with your site next to mom.'"
Bob Horvath, Missing His Crypt: "This is when we found out they had sold my grave site to somebody else."
The cemetery says, Bob's crypt was sold in the mid 90s after he quit making payments on it.
Tracy Horvath Bazon: "We were paying on it every month, and we were getting coupon booklets at the time, and then, the coupon booklet runs out. It never came. We assumed we were done paying."
The cemetery says they sent Tracy a certified letter, letting her know the account was overdue. But the paperwork shows it was sent to an old address that Bob used to live at.
Bob Horvath: "They had sent everything to the wrong address, and who signed Tracy's name, I don't know. But it's definitely not Tracy's signature."
With no response from the Horvaths, the cemetery sold Bob's crypt number 437 to someone else. His crypt was between the wall and Evelyn's crypt number 436. Bob gave the cemetery a simple solution.
Bob Horvath: "Simplest way: They got hundreds of crypts over there, say to the people, 'We have a situation. We would want to move your place over here.' And it's that simple to me."
The cemetery says they contacted the new crypt owner and offered to buy her crypt back.
They say she told them she didn't want to sell to them, leaving a heartbreaking situation with plenty of blame.
Tracy Horvath Bazon: "I think both sides are at fault to a degree. There were definitely some months that went by that the payment wasn't made, and then, they sent the notice reminding us or whatever. But the problem was that the notice that they sent out I never got. Went to the wrong address."
The cemetery would not tell Bob or Tracy the new owner so they could explain why they wanted to buy the crypt. The Horvaths seem to have hit a dead end, but Bob doesn't think so.
Patrick Fraser: "You think it will be rectified?"
Bob Horvath: "It has to be. The people that have to move, there is a place that's supposed to be open on the west side. These are the people that have to move to the west side, not me. We didn't do anything wrong."
Well Howard, you have heard the story. Legally, can Bob buy his crypt back to be buried next to Evelyn, or is he out of luck?
Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: "Legally, he is out of luck, because a court will not force a cemetery to give him that exact crypt. He can file a complaint with Florida's Division of Funeral Services, or he can try to get the cemetery to give the new owner his name so they could try to work this out."
The people at Southern Memorial Park in North Miami-Dade tried to help.
They told me they offered the Horvaths two crypts together on the other side of the cemetery. That would involve opening Evelyn's grave and moving her.
Tracy is afraid her mother's casket has fallen apart, her remains are exposed, and can't bear the horror of doing that to her mother.
The cemetery told me they had not told the new crypt owner why it was so important to the Horvaths to have that space, and they told me under state law, they could not give Tracy the owner's name.
They also said they would not ask the new owner of crypt 437 to contact Tracy.
Their final words: We feel we have done all we can do.
Bob is hopeful the owner of crypt 437 will see his story and contact him, and he says he can wait to get it done. He has time.
Patrick Fraser: "You are not going to die tomorrow, are you?"
Bob Horvath: "I haven't made any arrangements. I don't think so."
Patrick Fraser: "Bob is a character. I hope that he or Tracy can at least get to talk to the owner of crypt 437 so they can try to work something out. The State of Florida Division of Funeral Services did tell me yesterday they have contacted the cemetery to see if they could help work something out. And one more thing: If you own a grave site, check. You may not own it."
A grave mistake buried you? Ready to dig out? Give us a call. We'll rise up and try to save you from your headaches.
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