ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
82°
Partly Cloudy
H 92° L 73°
  • cloudy-day
    82°
    Current Conditions
    Partly Cloudy. H 92° L 73°
  • cloudy-day
    92°
    Today
    Partly Cloudy. H 92° L 73°
  • cloudy-day
    92°
    Tomorrow
    Partly Cloudy. H 92° L 73°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb news on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb traffic on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb weather on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

National
Woman says she could face jail time because she can't afford husband's cremation
Close

Woman says she could face jail time because she can't afford husband's cremation

Woman says she could face jail time because she can't afford husband's cremation
Photo Credit: WSBTV.com

Woman says she could face jail time because she can't afford husband's cremation

A Georgia woman says she could face arrest because she can't afford the funeral expense for her late husband.

>> Read more trending news

A funeral home storing the man's remains said it may press charges for abandonment of a body.

Betty Starnes told WSB-TV she made it clear when her husband’s body was brought to Southern Cremations and Funerals at Cheatham Hill, Georgia, that she couldn’t pay for it up front. 

But the funeral home tells a different story that could land her in jail.

“It’s just unconscionable when you’ve lost somebody you love,” Starnes said.

Starnes said it has been nearly two weeks since she lost her husband. Now, she’s worried she could lose her freedom.

“I went to pieces. I said I’m not going to jail and I’m not a crook,” Starnes said. 

When her husband died on Oct. 6, she asked the funeral home to pick up his body. It’s been stored at the funeral home ever since, awaiting cremation.

Starnes said she can’t afford to pay the nearly $1,000 bill and unless she pays it by Friday or pays to move the body somewhere else, she said the owner of the funeral home is threatening to press charges for abandonment of a body.

“He said this is a felony offense. I said I’m not a felon. I want my husband’s body, but you won’t let me have it. You won’t work with me,” Starnes said. 

WSB-TV reporter Justin Wilfon went to the funeral home Wednesday night looking for the owner.

The owner later sent WSB-TV a statement, saying:

“Southern Cremations & Funerals at Cheatham Hill is a local, family-owned business that serves hundreds of families every year in their time of need. Cheatham Hill Memorial Park has been assisting families in our community for over 38 years. We take excellent care of our families and provide the highest level of service to them, and their loved ones.

“Southern Cremations & Funerals at Cheatham Hill received a call on October 6 at 2:13pm from Mrs. Betty Starnes requesting that we take her deceased husband, Mr. Kenneth Starnes into our care. We brought him into our care later that day. Mrs. Starnes visited our funeral home on October 7 and was apprised of all the costs associated with the services she requested, and signed a contract for those services at that time. As is reasonable and customary in our industry, Mrs. Starnes understood that payment would be required prior to cremation. She indicated that payment would be rendered by October 9.

“We have not received payment for any of our services and have been actively working with the family for several days to address this unfortunate situation. Mrs. Starnes has been notified of all her options, including alternative resources that she could contact if she needed assistance in paying for the services selected. We are working diligently to resolve this situation. It is unfortunate that Mrs. Starnes has chosen to go directly to the media versus contacting the resources she was given, including our firm transferring her husband to another provider.”

Starnes told WSB-TV she was confused when she signed a contract and would be willing to set up a payment plan, but the funeral home’s owner said he wants the payment in full before cremation, which he said is customary in the industry.

“I said we don’t have cash up front. You people knew that coming in,” Starnes said. 

Her husband was a military veteran, wounded in Vietnam. After serving his country, she hopes someone will now help him and keep her out of jail.

“Maybe someone will find it in their heart to help,” Starnes said. 

The funeral home’s statement said Starnes has been notified of all her options, including alternative resources that she could contact if she needed assistance in paying for the services selected.

But Starnes said she has exhausted all of her options and no one can help.

Read More
VIEW COMMENTS

There are no comments yet. Be the first to post your thoughts. or Register.

News

  • Two brothers accused of at least seven robberies across metro Atlanta in May are no ordinary criminals: they’re identical twins. Marquavious and Juntavious Burton, 20, were arrested in early June. According to Fulton County jail records, the twins have been arrested multiple times since 2015 on charges such as aggravated assault and theft by receiving stolen property. The latest charges include seven counts of armed robbery and a charge of participating in criminal street gang activity. Police believe they may be responsible for even more recent robberies. The Burton twins have also been accused of shooting at some of the robbery victims, Channel 2 Action News reported.  In other news:
  • Two Cobb County siblings were killed after their 17-year-old sister allegedly lost control of the family’s SUV on a South Carolina interstate, police said Monday.  Jessica Wolwark was driving a Chevrolet northbound on I-85 in Anderson County when she ran off the highway and the SUV overturned Saturday morning, according to police.  Wolwark and her mother, Natalia Anggraeni, were both wearing seat belts and were seriously injured in the crash. Two other family members died from their injuries after being ejected, police said.  Kirana “Kiki” Wolwark, 15, and 12-year-old Nate Wolwark were both killed, a family friend posted on a Go Fund Me page. The family was traveling from their Kennesaw home to Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C., where the girls were to attend a religious retreat, according to Chrissy Concepcion, who set up the fundraising page for the family. The family does not have medical insurance, she said. The South Carolina medical examiner was unable to confirm the identities of those killed, but family friends confirmed the names and ages of the Wolwark siblings.  “Kiki was a joy to be around, and spread her love for animals to everyone she knew,” Concepcion posted. “Nate was the perfect boy; always helpful, caring, and accepting of everyone around him.” The driver and her mother were both taken by helicopter to a Greenville hospital, where both remained Monday. Anggraeni has a broken neck and several broken ribs, Concepcion said. Jessica Wolwark has torn ligaments in her arm, but is expected to be released from the hospital this week.  The South Carolina Highway Patrol is investigating the crash.  In other news: 
  • For hours, the fans came in a steady stream to mourn and pay their respects at the spot where rapper XXXTentacion was gunned down, some leaving behind expressions of sympathy along a fence and on the sidewalk. No arrests have been announced in the shooting of the 20-year-old rapper, who Broward County sheriff's officials say was ambushed by two suspects as he left an upscale motor sports dealership Monday afternoon in his electric BMW. His attorney, David Bogenschutz, said investigators told him the 20-year-old rapper, who pronounced his stage name 'Ex Ex Ex ten-ta-see-YAWN,' had visited a bank shortly before the shooting and possibly withdrew cash to buy a motorcycle. That brought a parade of mourners Tuesday to the spot behind Riva Motorsports where XXXTentacion was gunned down, not far from where he grew up in Lauderhill. They placed candles, flowers and teddy bears on the sidewalk near where the rapper known by his fans simply as 'X'' was shot. They decorated 100 yards (91 meters) of sidewalk with chalk art including messages of sympathy and loss such as 'Feel for you XXX' and '4evr Young.' Myles O'Hara, 17, and Aaron Gavin, 20, sat on the curb, solemnly staring at the ground, mostly ignoring the people who moved past. They said they admired XXXTentacion because he was a local kid who rose from rough circumstances and was making a positive contribution. 'He had some legal allegations before, but the last year he had only been a positive influence on people's lives, making hit Billboard songs,' O'Hara said. 'He has been a kind person. You could look at his face and smile and he was just a normal kid like us ... His style is almost hard to explain. He had an angry tone. He meant everything he said, even the most simplistic words. It just came off his tongue like nothing. He was speaking his mind.' Gavin said unlike other rappers whose songs emphasize buying expensive merchandise, XXXTentacion rapped about his emotions. 'X talked about how he felt instead of materialistic things like owning this car, this car, this house, this house,' Gavin said. Brandon Lang, a 29-year-old magazine owner, said XXXTentacion may have had an angry persona in his performance, but in reality he 'did good things,' pointing out that he had come home to perform in an upcoming charity show. 'He had all these mistakes that could have wound up defining him but he didn't let that happen,' Lang said. 'That is why he is connecting to all these kids because these kids are going through a really sad time, a sad world. He taught them how to cope.' The entertainer, who sported dreadlocks and facial tattoos, was a rising star. He notched a No. 1 album in March with his sophomore effort '?'' and had a top 10 hit with 'Sad!' but was facing trial on charges that he beat up his pregnant girlfriend. His brief career was marked by controversy. In 2016, he was arrested on charges including home invasion for a 2015 incident, and less than a month later was jailed on charges that he attacked his girlfriend, who was pregnant at the time. Later, he faced more charges including witness tampering. In an interview this month with the Miami New Times, XXXTentacion described his upbringing, which included seeing his mother infrequently and being raised by friends, family and baby sitters. His mother bought him clothes, phones and other gifts. He said he used violence so she would engage with him. In one video on social media, he said: 'If worse things come to worse, I (expletive) die a tragic death or some (expletive), and I'm not able to see out my dreams, I at least want to know that the kids perceive my message and were able to make something of themselves.' He continued later: 'I appreciate and love all of you and I believe in you all; do not let your depression make you, do not let your body define your soul, let your soul define your body. Your mind is limitless ... you are worth more than you can believe.
  • On scorching summer days, taking a nice cold bottle of water for your drive seems like a natural fit. But it could lead to startling consequences, firefighters say. >> Read more trending news One Oklahoma fire department and a power company in Idaho recently demonstrated how a partly filled water bottle could magnify the sun’s rays and start a fire. David Richardson, of the Midwest Fire Department in Oklahoma, told KFOR the sunlight “uses the liquid and the clear material to develop a focused beam, and sure enough, it can actually cause a fire.” “The sunlight will come through (the bottle) when it’s filled with liquid and act as a magnifying glass as you would with regular optics,” said Richardson. A test at the fire department, outside a car, showed sunlight going through a water bottle raised the temperature of a piece of paper to 250 degrees, KFOR reported. Representatives from Idaho Power also showed the same potential problem in a Facebook post in July, with a video showing direct sunlight going through a water bottle leaving smoke and burn marks in car seats before the bottle was removed. While the risk of fire is relatively small, officials recommend keeping water bottles out of unattended vehicles, KFOR reported. Read more at KFOR.  
  • President Donald Trump tried on Tuesday evening to push Republicans in the House to pass an immigration reform bill later this week, basically telling GOP lawmakers he would support whatever they could pass, as Republicans struggled to find the votes to do that, and pressed the White House to back off a new policy that separates some illegal immigrant kids from their parents after being picked up at the border. “The system’s been broken for many years,” the President told reporters at the Capitol before the unusual Tuesday evening gathering. “The immigration system, it’s been a really bad, bad. system, probably the worst anywhere in the world. And we’re gonna try and see if we can fix it.” Earlier in the day, the President had told a gathering of business leaders that he would not back off his calls for major changes in U.S. immigration laws. “When people come up, they have to know they’re never going to get in, or else it’s never going to stop,” Mr. Trump said of the flow of illegal immigration across the southern border with Mexico. President Trump: 'I'm asking Congress to do is to give us a third option, which we have been requesting since last year, the legal authority to detain and promptly remove families together as a unit. We have to be able to do this. This is the only solution to the border crisis.' pic.twitter.com/UllzH6rL4y — CSPAN (@cspan) June 19, 2018 But complicating matters for the President was the recent move to force the separation of children and parents, if the parents were being charged for illegally entering the United States, as that continued to draw stern opposition from GOP lawmakers of all stripes. “All of us are horrified at the images that we are seeing,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). “We ought to stop separating families,” said Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS). “The Administration disagrees,” as GOP lawmakers said the conflict wasn’t really discussed during the Tuesday night meeting with Mr. Trump. “We can have strong border security without separating families,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH). 13 GOP Senators signed a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, asking the Trump Administration to “halt current policies leading to the forced separation of minor children from their parents,” but that missive fell on deaf ears at the White House, as GOP lawmakers scrambled for kind of legislative answer. If every Senator is willing to support it by unanimous consent, the Senate could pass a bill, before the end of the week, that would allow families charged with illegal entry to be kept together while awaiting an expedited hearing. I truly hope that is what we do. — Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) June 19, 2018 House GOP leaders on Tuesday night posted two different immigration bills for possible House votes – one was a more conservative plan backed by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), which was unlikely to get close to a majority; a second was a more moderate bill that lacked the support of conservatives. It left many unsure what would happen if votes occurred this week on the House floor. “I’m still working through whether I can vote for the compromise bill,” said Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH), as more conservative lawmakers withheld their support from the only all-GOP plan that has a chance for approval. Meanwhile, even as Mr. Trump tried to push Republicans to stick together on immigration, he managed to cause some internal GOP pain, as lawmakers said the President – during the closed door meeting with House lawmakers – took a verbal shot at Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC), who lost his primary a week ago to a candidate backed by the President. “Is Mark Sanford here? I just want to congratulate him on running a great race,” the President reportedly said, drawing quiet groans and hisses from some GOP members. One Republican, Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) said later on Twitter, that the jab was uncalled for. “This was a classless cheap shot,” Amash wrote.
  • U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson accused the Trump administration of a 'cover-up' after officials denied him entry Tuesday to a detention center for migrant children in South Florida where he had hoped to survey living conditions. Nelson and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, both Florida Democrats, went to the contractor-run Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children following reports it was receiving detained children who had arrived in the country illegally. Wasserman Schultz said the facility was being used for an estimated 1,000 children, aged 13 to 17 — most of whom arrived as unaccompanied minors and about 10 percent of whom are children separated from their families at the border. She said two other South Florida facilities were being used for younger children. 'It is an affront as the senior senator of this state that an agency head would tell me that I do not have entrance into a federally funded facility where the lives and health of children are at stake,' Nelson said. President Donald Trump's immigration policies have drawn intense scrutiny following reports of the forced separation of migrant children from their parents. Democrats and some Republicans are urging an end to the practice at the U.S.-Mexico border. Thousands of children split from their families at that border are being held in government-run facilities. Wasserman Schultz said her staff had spoken Tuesday with the Florida-based company, Comprehensive Health Services, contracted to run the facility. She said her staff was told the lawmakers would be 'welcomed warmly and allowed into the facility.' But Nelson said Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services Eric Hargan told him it would take two weeks for them to gain access. 'I think what they're doing is a cover-up for the president,' Nelson said. Trump doesn't like the negative response he's received, even from fellow Republicans, Nelson said. 'Are they abusing these kids? Are they sleeping on the floor? Are they in cages, like we've seen in some videos?' Wasserman Schultz asked after being barred from the building. The Florida facility is overseen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Department spokesman Kenneth Wolfe said in an email Monday that it had reopened as 'a temporary unaccompanied alien children program facility.' He did not provide further details. Gov. Rick Scott's office, however, released documents Tuesday that showed that federal authorities in February notified state officials and members of Congress that the Homestead facility would be reopened. Federal authorities didn't give an exact date, but said the Homestead location would reopen after damage from Hurricane Irma was repaired. The release from HHS also stated that the facility would only be used for 'unaccompanied alien children' detained by immigration officials. Later Tuesday, Scott called on Trump's administration to stop separating the families. The Republican governor sent his request in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. Scott's letter also requested that federal authorities notify state officials when they bring into Florida migrant children who have been separated from their families. Scott also wants to know what services are being provided to the children and whether they have had any health screenings. He said the information is needed to make sure that the children are being protected. An Associated Press reporter was denied access to Azar while he visited a Miami hospital Tuesday to talk with patients about drug costs. Spokesman Gavin Smith barred the AP reporter from asking Azar about the immigration facility because an interview with the secretary had not been pre-arranged. Several dozen children could be seen Tuesday playing soccer outside the building behind a chain link fence, mostly talking and shouting to each other in Spanish. Security officials would not let reporters near the facility or provide details on conditions inside. Mark Greenberg, a former head of the HHS Administration for Children and Families, said agency policy says requests to visit facilities for migrant children be submitted two weeks in advance. However, Greenberg said in the current state of heightened concern it behooves HHS to act rapidly on requests from lawmakers. Greenberg said much of the reason for lead time is logistical: the facilities are operated by federal contractors and government officials should be present for a congressional inspection. 'The current urgency of concerns about what is happening to children who have been separated from their parents makes it important to provide access as quickly as possible,' he said. Greenberg is currently a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington think tank focused on immigration. ___ Reporter Gary Fineout contributed to this story from Tallahassee. See AP's complete coverage of the debate over the Trump administration's policy of family separation at the border: https://apnews.com/tag/Immigration