Mother waits for son's headstone after seven months
Posted at: 10/02/2013 10:25 PM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4
An Albuquerque mother says a now out-of-business funeral home took her money, and never placed a headstone on her son's grave site.
That was 7 months ago.
Romona Ortiz tells KOB Eyewitness News 4 she's afraid many other families may be in the same boat after Salazar & Sons Mortuary Inc. surrendered its license in May.
The south valley San Jose Armijo cemetery is where Ortiz buried her 21-year-old son Isaiah in February.
She says the empty mound of dirt where her son's headstone should be reminds her every day that she was taken advantage of.
"He had like a hole in his heart, and there wasn't nothing else to do," said Ortiz, looking at the place where her son is laid to rest.
Ortiz doesn't let a day go by without thinking of her son Isaiah.
"It's been 7 months now," she said. "His dad is on the other side of this brick thing."
When Ortiz visits her son, she follows the headstones... three away from where Isaiah's dad is buried.
"That's how I know where to find him," she said.
It's how she knows because Isaiah doesn't have his own headstone, and she's afraid he never will.
Ramona paid for a modest headstone after Isaiah died. The check is dated March 15 and is made out to the now out-of-business Salazar & Sons Mortuary. The company surrendered its state license on May 7.
"I gave them a check on the 15th of March and they had cashed the check on March 18," she said.
Ramona showed us copies of her checks, and a receipt from Salazar & Sons dated the same day.
"The only thing I would like to happen is to get his death certificate, and the headstone, and I would really be happy about that," she said.
In an e-mail to KOB, the state Regulation and Licensing Department tells us a company called Reflections LLC is operating Salazar Mortuary -- a new company -- in the old Salazar & Sons building.
Owner Louis Salazar by phone said his relatives owned the former Salazar & Sons.
He said he's trying to rebuild the family reputation, but cases like Ortiz's aren't his responsibility.
But for a mother who just wants a marker to guide her back to her son, that doesn't seem fair.
"It means a whole lot to me," she said.
Salazar & Sons originally had their license revoked in August 2012, but while the company appealed that decision, a judge allowed the business to reopen several months later.
It was in that window, before the license was surrendered for good in May, that Ortiz purchased that headstone. She says she thinks many other people were likely taken advantage of during that time.