State investigator shows up at embattled cemetery that buried woman in wrong grave plot

Better Call Behnken

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – An investigator with Florida’s Division of Funeral, Cemetery and Consumer Services showed up at Royal Palm South on Tuesday, looking for answers. 

By his side was the family of Cheryl Maxwell. Our Better Call Behnken investigation found that someone else was mistakenly buried in Maxwell’s pre-paid plot.

When she passed away in early March, the her body was temporarily sent to a mausoleum, instead of lying at rest beside her husband, where she had wanted to be. 

“I shouldn’t have to go through this,” said Florence Jenkins, Cheryl’s mother. “It’s hurtful, they’ve been dishonest with me. It’s a reflection on my family.”

The investigator stood at the gravesite and assured the family he’d find out how this happened.

Here’s what 8 On Your Side knows so far. 

Cemetery owner Clifford Work, through his company, Work & Son, has numerous complaints from families about the three cemeteries he owns. He owns Royal Palm South and Royal Palm North in St. Petersburg and Sarasota Memorial Park.

Families complain of tire tracks over stones and neglect. Even the mausoleum where Cheryl Maxwell’s body is now has been deemed unsafe and ordered secured by St. Petersburg Code Enforcement. 

Despite all of this, Clifford is getting a salary of $100,000, after a bankruptcy trustee hired him to continue managing the cemeteries. 

Court records show his son, Matthew Work, is getting $25,000 a year for maintenance. 

The state is investigating numerous complaints against Work’s cemeteries and a spokeswoman says they’ll do whatever they can do the help the families. 

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