COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Cheryl Laferty and her husband, John, were married for 38 years. John died in 2019 and was buried in the cemetery across the street from the home the couple shared in Madison County.
In 2020, Laferty ordered a headstone for his gravesite from Yauger Monumental Works in London. Laferty paid more than half the cost, about $1,000, but never saw the stone, and never heard from the owner again. In 2021, Laferty called Better Call 4.
“If they would just call me or say we’re having this delay, or we had this problem with… whatever. I mean, we all have issues that come up, and just to hear nothing is the difficult part,” said Laferty.
I called and went to the business. No one answered and the doors were locked. After Laferty’s story aired, Roger and Corabeth Morris called Better Call 4. They purchased and paid for a headstone in April of 2019 for their daughter, Miranda, also from Yauger Monumental Works.
It was nearly a year before the couple saw the finished product in a warehouse, not at their daughter’s grave site.
“We want it. We paid for something and can’t get it delivered. So, we would just like to have it for Miranda,” said Morris.
Again, I called the business, but got no response. Then, I called the London Division of Police. When Laferty’s story aired, Chief Glenn Nicol told me there was only one complaint against the business. After I spoke with Morris, more than nine complaints against Yauger were being investigated. The chief told me that information was sent to the Madison County Prosecutor’s Office to consider criminal charges.
In the months that followed, I continued to check in with both departments for updates. It was an active investigation, until late last year, when the owner of the business, Carmen Michael, pled guilty to Theft by Deception, a fourth-degree felony, for taking $65,973.11 from 49 victims over six years.
Michael was sentenced to 90 days in jail, five years community control, and full restitution in favor of the victims. The Madison County Chief Prosecuting Attorney told me in late April that Michael served her jail sentence, is currently serving her five years probation, and has repaid most of the victims in full.
I also heard from Michael’s attorney, who said she believes Michael was not intentionally deceiving anyone. Her father and husband died within a year, and she became overwhelmed, adding that she feels very ashamed and apologetic.
The attorney also said, “Yauger Monuments is, and will be forever, out of business.” The customers I spoke with said they’re just glad to now have closure.