Crews investigate 150 grave markers meant for vets found at an abandoned funeral home

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Monday, June 3, 2019

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- "I'm upset, this is not fair. It's not fair to these veterans," said Coroner Mark Bowen.

The Marshal's Office says around 150 grave markers, dedicated to service members, were found stacked up and collecting dust at Dent's abandoned funeral home.

"Actually one of our deputies was working with the Land Bank," Marshal Ramone Lamkin said. "We have some potential investors coming into Richmond County and we always go with them to look at the property and make sure it's safe for them to go in."

During their walk through they stumbled onto headstones covered by old blankets and trash. The Marshal notified the Richmond County Coroner and District Attorney.

"To know that their grave hasn't been marked for all these years, I think that's a really disservice to them and what they've done for us," DA Natalie Paine said.

"It's disgusting, it's bad, and you know it makes me mad to know there's people laying out their without their markers on the grave," Bowen said.

This discovery, just one of many issues News 12 has uncovered over the years. In a News 12 investigation, 10 years ago, we found Dent's funeral home did not properly embalm a man's body.

In 2009 a women tells news 12 her loved one's body was abused.

"He's swollen, there's blood running out of his nose, blood running out of his ears. The casket is soaked, it's filthy."

The investigation also found Dent's funeral home was operating without a license and holding onto ashes of people's loved ones.

"I just want closure, you know, if I could get the ashes (of my sister) I'd feel better," Velma Harmon told News 12 10-year-ago.

"I don't know where the remains are or nothing," said Sharon Mitchell in 2009.

Now there's a new mystery of abandoned military markers. Marshal Lamkin says he wants justice.

"It's not right, and it's a disservice to that family so we want to try and locate where the soldiers were buried and get those markers out there to those sites," Lamkin said.

The Richmond County Coroner's Office, DA's Office, Marshal's and Sheriff's Office will be back out at Dent's tomorrow to further investigate.

News 12 talked with some people who used to work at funeral homes that say it could be these markers were spelled wrong or had an error on them and instead of sending it back they just stored them in the warehouse. But right now it's all speculation.

Monday, June 3, 2019

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- Officials with the Richmond County Marshal's Office, the District Attorney's Office, and Coroner Mark Bowen are investigating after 150 bronze and marble grave markers meant for veterans were found on land owned by the Augusta Landbank Authority.

Those markers were found in an abandoned funeral home last week. The funeral home was run by the Dents, Bowen said.

According to the Marshal's Office, deputies with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office and the authority were showing investors property when one of the deputies noticed a "large grouping of packages."

Upon closer look, officials say, those packages were actually grave markers. Bowen clarified, and said the markers were located in a garage.

"The grave markers were covered by old blankets and trash," Bowen said in a statement.

The markers had the name, rank, date of birth, and date of death inscribed, authorities say.

"I'm upset. This is not fair. This is not fair to these veterans," Bowen said.

The stones have since been moved to the coroner's office, who has begun the hunt for where the markers actually belong.

"We will begin to compile a list of names on the markers and will start finding the location of gravesites by the end of the week," Bowen said.

The Dents, who owned Dent's Undertaking Establishment, had their business shut down following a series of News 12 investigations.

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