Crowd Calls For Action At Ailing Cemetery

Cheyanne Crystal Barefoot, left, addresses a crowd of more than 200 gathered at Harnett Devotional Gardens Saturday evening. Standing with her is Tiffany Boykin. They organized the meeting to address concerns surrounding the cemetery. DAILY RECORD PHOTO / EMILY WEAVER

By Emily Weaver
Dunn Daily Record

J.C. Peacock died on April 1, 2021, and was buried in Harnett Devotional Gardens two days later.

A few weeks after that, his grave was sold to another buyer, according to his daughter, Cheyanne Crystal Barefoot.

“They sold my daddy’s grave after he was already buried,” she told a crowd of more than 200 people at the beleaguered cemetery Saturday evening.

Many of the attendees came with their own complaints — hit-and-miss lawn care, drip-stained tombs in a leaking mausoleum, missing grave markers, eroding driveways and money paid for services reportedly not rendered in a perpetual care cemetery. Two hundred of them signed a petition to demand change and improvements at Harnett Devotional Gardens.

An entrance to Harnett Devotional Gardens, off of Fairground Road, is seen here early Wednesday afternoon, July 20. DAILY RECORD PHOTO / RON MCLAMB

Barefoot called the meeting to muster a united force in future actions against the company that now owns it. More than 175 registered complaints at the petition table, one dating back to a tombstone reportedly missing since 1984.

Barefoot’s complaint dates back to 2021.

A family friend purchased the plot in the cemetery office and “walked out there to find out where they would be buried and found out my daddy was buried there,” Barefoot said. “They walked right back into the office and demanded their money back.”

Barefoot told the crowd she was recently asked to come into the office to verify one of her family’s plots. She did, but is now encouraging other families, who are called in to do the same, not to do it.

Justin Watts mows a lawn at Harnett Devotional Gardens on Wednesday, July 20. He said he was recently hired to maintain the grounds. Several complaints were made to the cemetery’s owners and to the North Carolina Cemetery Commission about high weeds and grass around the graves in recent weeks. DAILY RECORD PHOTO / RON MCLAMB

“That should not be happening because if they have their records correctly, you already have a copy. They should not be asking us to update. I have been asked for … us to not fill out that paperwork so that when the audit does happen, it’s on our side and not theirs,” she said.

Harnett Devotional Gardens was once considered a jewel of a place to be buried in Dunn with its box hedges, crepe myrtle trees and softly rolling fields of green. But now, some people with buried loved ones say it’s a little “too green” with knee-high weeds and overgrown tombstones. The grounds were cut before Saturday’s meeting.

The leaking mausoleum was deep-cleaned, too.

Evelyn McLamb says she first reported a leak in the mausoleum in 2012.

The mausoleum, seen here, at Harnett Devotional Gardens has had a problem with leaks since 2012, according to a 2013 complaint filed with the N.C. Attorney General’s Office Consumer Protection division. DAILY RECORD PHOTO / RON MCLAMB

“My husband is buried there and I also have a crypt for myself. This mausoleum has been leaking for over a year and has not been fixed,” she reported in a complaint to the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office on Dec. 19, 2013. “… The staff tells me they dip water off the roof every time it rains.”

Barefoot says they are forming a committee and plan to take the petition and all of the complaints to Attorney General Josh Stein in the coming days.

“This is not the last time we’re gonna be meeting here guys. This is only the beginning. We ain’t gonna shut up. We’re here to stand up and that’s what we’re gonna do,” Barefoot said. The crowd applauded.

“It isn’t just for us. It’s for this whole cemetery.”

State Rep. Howard Penny (R-Harnett) addresses a crowd gathered at Harnett Devotional Gardens on Saturday evening. DAILY RECORD PHOTO / EMILY WEAVER

State Rep. Howard Penny (R-Harnett) told the group he also plans to take action, adding that he, too, has loved ones buried at Devotional Gardens.

Penny says he plans to meet with Wynn Graham, formerly of Rose & Graham Funeral Home and a member of the North Carolina Cemetery Commission, and the commission, itself, to see what the General Assembly can do to fix and prevent these types of issues from cropping up in the state’s cemeteries.

“… To make sure when you invest money, you’re going to get what you asked for,” he said.

Barefoot invites any one with issues at Harnett Devotional Gardens to email the new committee at Complaints can also be registered with Stein’s office online at or by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or 919-716-6000.

Related Articles:
New Owner, Same Problems

Perpetual Problems Persist

Local Cemetery Under Investigation After Money Disappears


  1. State Rep. Howard Penny (R-Harnett) getting involved?!?! How in the world is this a government matter?!?!? Does the state own the cemetery? Socialist who expect the government to take care of them and do everything for them is the PROBLEM with this country! If the PRIVATE company is doing something illegal or has broken its contract, we already have laws in place to remedy the situation. Asking for the government to stick its neck where it doesn’t belong is exactly what snowflake libs want! C’mon people WAKE UP and take care of things yourselves! That is, unless your a socialist liberal and want MORE and MORE government control!

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