Final resting place: Cemeteries lack oversight

At some cemeteries, graves were desecrated so more plots could be sold. Is enough being done to protect bereaved families?

Josh Slocum: I don't think so because the complaints are so similar. High pressure sales tactics, misleading or outright dishonest information given to consumers, double-sold plots.

A "double-sold plot" is when the same grave is sold to two different people. That's what happened to Julie Ramirez's family after her father was buried at SCI's Mont Meta Memorial Park in Texas in 2001. The manager wanted to move him over to a different spot.

Julie Ramirez: They wanted--

Anderson Cooper: --exhume your father.

Julie Ramirez: --to exhume Daddy right away. They wanted us to--

Anderson Cooper: In order to give the plots to--

Julie Ramirez: Uh-huh (affirm).

Anderson Cooper: --somebody else.

Julie Ramirez: Yeah, absolutely.

Anderson Cooper: Why not just tell the people who hadn't yet buried their loved one that, "We're gonna have to give you a different plot"?

Julie Ramirez: That was our suggestion. We said, "Look, do not move Dad. Just leave him alone."

The cemetery, however, dug him up and moved him anyway - without the family's permission.

Julie Ramirez: It just didn't seem fair. That was his final resting place. I can see a person making a mistake but it's the way they handled it afterwards.

Anderson Cooper: Moving the body without your permission.

Julie Ramirez: Moving the body without our permission like thieves.

Michael Avenatti: I think that this company is driven by profits above all else.

Attorney Michael Avenatti has been investigating SCI-owned facilities all over the country. One of his biggest cases involves Eden Memorial Park, a large Jewish cemetery north of Los Angeles.

Anderson Cooper: How much does one plot cost, or can it cost?

Michael Avenatti: One plot at Eden Memorial Park Cemetery may cost upwards of $25,000, on a per square foot--

Anderson Cooper: Twenty-five thousand? To bury one person?

Michael Avenatti: Twenty-five thousand dollars. The average plot is approximately $8,000. But when you look at this on a per-square-foot basis, this is some of the most expensive property in California, if not in the country.

With prices that high, Avenatti says SCI had an incentive to squeeze as many customers in as possible. In a Los Angeles court, he's presented the testimony of groundskeepers who say they were ordered to cram new graves so close to old ones they had to break existing burial containers and throw human remains into the cemetery dump.

[Sands vs. SCI Courtroom preliminary hearing, Elias Medina: About 200 graves are missing bones.]

The case is still being litigated. It's not the first involving the company. In 2003, SCI agreed to pay more than a $100 million for the desecration of graves at the Menorah Gardens cemeteries in Florida. In April, Avenatti was busy gathering evidence against another SCI cemetery in Florida. Acting on a tip, he put divers in a pond at the edge of the Star of David Cemetery in North Lauderdale. They found engraved stones and what appear to be parts of concrete containers used to line graves.