A North Carolina couple is experiencing a second heartbreak after their 5-year-old son's grave marker was repossessed by the manufacturer over payment dispute.
The boy, Jake Leatherman, died nearly a year ago after a battle with leukemia. His funeral became national news when NASCAR racers Joey Logano, Matt DiBenedetto, Ryan Ellis J.J. Yeley and crew members from the teams of Kyle Busch, Aric Almirola, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. attended.
But when Jake's mother, Crystal, recently went to visit her sons grave, the stone was gone, she told WBTV on Monday.
“He repossessed it, like it was a car,” she said.
The manufacturer of the monument, the Rev. J.C. Shoaf, said the family did pay in full for a stone, but made several changes, which added up to a larger bill.
“If you buy something, you’ve got to pay for it. No matter what it is,” Shoaf, who runs Southeastern Monument company, told WBTV.
When he was asked why he placed the marker originally without a full payment, Shoaf said he did it out of good will.
“Because they had been through so much emotionally, grieving so hard, I thought we’d just go ahead and do it,” he said.
Crystal Leatherman and her husband, Wayne, told WBTV they didn’t know about the additional costs, but if they did they would have paid.
“If I would have owed him the money I would have paid him,” Crystal Leatherman told WBTV. “This is not something you argue over.”
Shoaf said the dispute about Jake's gravestone marked the first time in 54 year he's had this problem -- but he also said he feels for the family
“They’ve been through an awful lot, I know that. And right now, they’re thinking emotionally, and having that grave out there unmarked - that’s emotional trauma. I lost a child, I know what that is,” Shoaf said.
The couple is now looking at using another company to help provide a grave marker -- and are looking into hiring an attorney.