A pastor has repossessed a five-year-old boy’s headstone in Hickory, North Carolina because the boy’s parents allegedly owe him money.
“He repossessed it, like it was a car,” Crystal Leatherman told WBTV.
Crystal and her husband Wayne buried their son, Jake, almost a year ago after he died from leukemia.
Rev. JC Shoaf, who owns the monument company, countered: “If you buy something, you’ve got to pay for it. No matter what it is.”
Shoaf told the News & Observer: “I hated to do it. I’m not heartless and I have had a child die, so I know how it feels. But what was I to do? I thought having (the marker) would give me some leverage. In hindsight, I should have just written it up as a bad debt.”
Shoaf said the grieving parents paid him for the grave marker but not for the changes they wanted,
“It was my first time in 54 years [that] I’ve had this problem,” Shoaf told WBTV.
The Leathermans said Shoaf never told them about extra charges.
“If I would have owed him the money I would have paid him,” Crystal recalled. “This is not something you argue over.”
Shoaf said the Leathermans are suffering “emotional trauma” because of his actions:
They’ve been through an awful lot, I know that. And right now, they’re thinking emotionally, and having that grave out there unmarked – that’s emotional trauma. I lost a child, I know what that is.
Shoaf said that he wants to work things out with the Leathermans, but the couple is looking for another company to create a grave marker.
Shoaf told the News & Observer: “This could ruin my reputation. Hopefully, we can get this resolved, even if I take a loss on it.”