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Grieving families collect headstones from Austin Memorial Arts after months of silence

<i>WTHI via CNN Newsource</i><br/>At Austin Memorial Arts
WTHI via CNN Newsource
At Austin Memorial Arts

By Madison Zaleski

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    GREENE COUNTY, Indiana (WTHI) — Families in southern Indiana are finally getting answers. That’s as they collect headstones for their loved ones which many ordered several months ago.

You may recall the dozens of small claims filed against Austin Memorial Arts and its owner Richard King. The business and King are being investigated by Indiana State Police.

At Austin Memorial Arts, dozens of grieving families lined up as King and ISP worked to return headstones to customers.

Joe Levine finally got his uncle’s headstone from Austin Memorial Arts after ordering it a year ago. His uncle was a veteran, like himself, and all Levine wanted was to give his uncle a beautiful headstone that he deserved.

“A plaque is one thing, but a headstone is just that much more for him. You know the rest of my family out there is with headstones,” said Levine.

ISP has been conducting an investigation into the business. That comes after several civil cases were filed by customers who said they never got what they paid for. Many say they struggled to get a response from king about the delays and status of the business.

Now, King has been cooperating with ISP to return customers’ headstones, whether it’s finished or not. Levine is one customer with work still left to do.

“I mean I’m glad I got something, but now I have to pay again as for as the engraving part. Then, I got to wait to put on his gravesite,” said Levine.

King had no comment when News 10 asked him where he was during his absence.

Once ISP completes its investigation, all evidence will be forwarded to the Greene County prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor will then decide whether or not to bring charges against king.

“It is unusual for a suspect or an individual who is part of the investigation to cooperate… We’re certainly grateful for Mr. King to work with the Indiana state police and those who just want their headstones,” said Sgt. Kevin Getz with Indiana State Police.

If it’s necessary, Sgt. Getz noted there could potentially be another day for an on-site pick-up.

After a year-long process, Levine is relived to finally have his headstone. However, he wishes there was more direct communication.

“You know I’m a firm believer that stuff happens. I wish it didn’t have; Communication is key, but stuff happens, so you got to move on and try not to have it bring you down,” said Levine.

If you are missing a headstone or have any questions, you’re encouraged to contact the Indiana State Police at 812-332-4411.

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