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Cemetery board files contempt motion against Shepherd Memorial Park

Melody Shepherd, the sole heir of Thomas “Tom” Shepherd and Thos. Shepherd & Son Inc., failed to comply with the terms of the order placing Shepherd Memorial Park in receivership, the North Carolina Cemetery Commission said in a court filing in which it also asked her to account for $205,867 in payments the regulatory agency says she received.

The filing, by Hendersonville attorney Sharon Alexander, said that Shepherd had failed to respond to numerous requests by the Cemetery Commission to turn over information on the finances and affairs of the cemetery. In a motion for contempt Alexander filed in Henderson County Civil Superior Court last July, the commission asked a judge to order Shepherd to turn over mail, bank records and other information on the cemetery. On Feb. 28, Superior Court Judge Marvin P. Pope issued a show-cause order demanding that Shepherd turn over information the cemetery commission sought. A consent order signed by Pope the same day said that Melody Shepherd and Shepherd Memorial Park and the state commission had agreed that within 10 days Shepherd would provide:
• Names of vendors and purchase orders, “particularly the company providing granite.”
• Information on bank accounts, telephone and internet service for the past five years.
• Line item detail of all payments the commission says she received.
• An ignition key to a Ford backhoe on the property.
• Details of all burials at the cemetery during 2021.
• All cash, credit card information and checks payable she has received.

The court file this week contained no documentation that Shepherd had complied with the order within the 10-day period ending on March 10.
Judge Pope also said in the order that the parties had agreed that Shepherd would remove three vehicles from the cemetery grounds “owned by an entity related to her,” and that she would not contact the receiver, Gary McDowell, or visit the cemetery unless accompanied by her attorney.
Shepherd declined to speak on the record when the Lightning reached her on Tuesday. She is due in court next month for a hearing on the Cemetery Commission’s motion for contempt.
The Lightning was unable to reach Shepherd’s attorney, Mary Ann Hollocker. Michael Edney, who had represented Shepherd, the funeral home and the cemetery, formally withdrew as her attorney in January.
Shepherd could potentially get better news on another front.
Hollocker filed a claim last month requesting that the court grant Shepherd the balance of the amount the Thos. Shepherd & Son funeral home brought in a foreclosure sale last May. After First Bank received $827,779.91 to satisfy a mortgage on the business, a surplus of $1,193,554 remained. Only one creditor has filed a claim for payment, in the amount of $36,333. That would leave $1,157,221 that her attorney says Shepherd is entitled to receive. Hollocker’s motion asked the court to pay the remaining balance to Shepherd, who is executrix of her husband’s estate and last served as president of Thos. Shepherd & Son Inc.