LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – June Kessler finally has the headstone she paid for in September. This follows two Better Call Behnken reports and the announcement that Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd opened an investigation into where her money went.
The headstone marks the life of her husband of 50 years, including his badge as a Lakeland Police officer, and it marks where she plans to be laid to rest beside him. He also has a small marker for his military service.
Kessler said she knows the late Neil Kessler would be proud that she accomplished this.
“(I think) he’s happy,” she said. “I don’t know how it is in Heaven, but I’m sure he’s up there with my parents and his parents, it’s just comforting feeling.
June turned to Better Call Behnken for help after National Memorials stopped returning calls about the undelivered headstone.
Our Better Call Benken investigation found the business empty and owner William Minozzi has not returned any phone calls. That got the attention of Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd who used to work with the late Neil Kessler and launched an investigation.
“He was a fantastic professional police officer for the city of Lakeland. I worked with him back in the day when I was a young deputy. He backed me up many times when there were no deputies available, so it was special to me when I saw your story,” Judd told 8 On Your Side.
Then, out of the blue, a third-party company installed this stone. June’s whole family, including her son, Jason, say a weight has been lifted from their shoulders.
“I’m trying to think of the words to say thanks, because thank you isn’t enough,” she said.
“We couldn’t get anywhere for months and months and three weeks after your story, I even told my mom when he wouldn’t answer the door, ‘Behnken’s not going to go away, and you didn’t, and this is the result, so thank you.'”
8 On Your Side reached the third-party company and a representative explained that National Memorials ran into business trouble and contracted with other companies to finish stones but apparently failed to communicate that to customers like the Kesslers.
Meanwhile, the sheriff’s office investigation continues.