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Court orders Shepherd funeral home sold at auction

The Henderson County Clerk of Superior Court ordered the Thos. Shepherd & Son funeral home property sold at public auction on April 14.

The financial collapse of the Thos. Shepherd & Son funeral business entered what could be its final chapters when a court order set an April 14 public auction of the business's South Church Street property.
The office of the Clerk of Superior Court authorized the foreclosure sale after determining that Melody Shepherd and Thomas R. “Tom” Shepherd, who died on Dec. 31, had failed to make payments since last May on a loan of $793,358 against the property they received in March of 2018. After a hearing on Feb. 22 Assistant Clerk of Superior Court Joshua H. Santiago found the Shepherds in default and ordered the sale by First Bank trustee Jennifer Belter Formichella.
On Sept. 30, 2021, the amount of debt made up of principle, interest and late charges stood at $808,982 and no payment had been received since May of 2021, Gregory A. Jones, First Bank senior vice president, said in an affidavit filed with the Henderson County Superior Court.
The brick funeral home is valued on the tax books at $888,200 while the land was assessed at $1,006,200 for a total value of $1,894,400, tax records show.
The foreclosure of the business property came around the same time as First Citizens Bank’s action to foreclose on Melody Shepherd’s home in Kenmure, the gated community of high-end homes in Flat Rock. In that case, court records showed that Tom and Melody Shepherd had signed a promissory note for $333,000 for an equity line of credit on the home in February 2009 and that by last Dec. 1 the couple had fallen behind on payments by $6,191, having failed to pay since May 10, 2021. That auction on the courthouse steps, scheduled for Tuesday morning, was called off when the Melody Shepherd reached a settlement with the bank, attorney Mark Pinkston, the court-appointed substitute trustee, said in an interview.
“The foreclosure’s been canceled,” he said. “The account is in satisfactory position and the lender called off the foreclosure.”
Michael Edney, the attorney who represents Shepherd, informed a handful of prospective bidders of the agreement at 11 a.m. Tuesday. “We continue to work on things,” he said when asked whether he is also trying to prevent the auction of the business property.
The main source of the couple’s income, the funeral home, was shut down by state regulators on Nov. 4, 2020, and had its licensed revoked in a final order the North Carolina Board of Funeral Service issued in December 2021. And last November, a Superior Court judge granted a motion by the N.C. Cemetery Commission to put Shepherd Memorial Park into receivership because of numerous consumer complaints and management and upkeep problems.
Melody Shepherd also owns a four-bedroom, four-bath beachfront condominium in Sarasota, Florida, valued for tax purposes at $1.7 million. That property, too, is encumbered by a lien because of non-payment of condo association dues. The Beach Terrace Association Inc. property manager on Nov. 30, 2021, placed a lien on the property for non-payment of dues totaling $7,500. Payments of $3,750 in quarterly association fees were due July 1 and Oct. 1, said the claim, which was filed in Sarasota County Circuit Court.
Efforts to reach Melody Shepherd have been unsuccessful.