LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – Pam Wilkerson is the latest person to come forward with complaints about St. Stephens Cemetery on South Preston Street. Her son, Kris Cook, died in May 2015 when he suffered traumatic injuries during a tragic accident at Cardinal Aluminum in Louisville. The 26-year-old expecting father was working on the paint line when the incident happened.
Wilkerson and her husband chose to bury their son at St. Stephens Cemetery because several other relatives were already buried there. They thought it would be a peaceful place where the family could find comfort as they grieved her son’s death.
But the family soon ran into problems. Wilkerson said she paid for Kris' headstone in December 2015 and said the cemetery groundskeeper cashed her check the same day.
Now, more than 15 months later, Wilkerson's son's headstone is still missing. She said the groundskeeper has given her numerous excuses for the repeated delays but has never produced the headstone.
"Now she won't answer her phones. She will not return our phone calls," Wilkerson said. "We have been calling pretty much once a week since 2015."
The family was forced to form a make-shift memorial just so they could locate their loved one's grave. The site is Kris' 19-month-old son's only memory of his father, who died shortly before the boy was born.
“We feel like [Kris] is being disrespected," said Wilkerson. "It's just heartbreaking. My husband can't get over the death because we go there to visit him and the only way we can mark the grave is by flowers and a cross --- that's it."
Adding to their heartbreak, the couple found tire tracks Monday on her son's grave. Wilkerson said she has witnessed the cemetery in deplorable condition numerous times in the past. She provided WHAS11 with several images from Memorial Day, in which St. Stephens appears to be in a similar condition to its current state.
"It breaks your heart when you come here and see this. And then you say, well why did we put our loved ones here? This was supposed to be their resting place and it's not ... I don't think they can rest like this," Wilkerson said. "We just want answers."
Wilkerson’s concerns come on the heels of dozens of other complaints families have raised about St. Stephens Cemetery in the past few days. The trouble started this weekend when several families discovered large piles of dirt strewn throughout the grounds, deep tire tracks, and missing or damaged headstones throughout the cemetery.
The groundskeeper, who identified herself only as Barbara, told WHAS11 that recent rainfall played a major role in the damaged grounds. She said she moved “some” headstones to keep them from falling into the graves.