Headstones in South Memphis yard draw questions, complaints


These headstones are being displayed in the front yard of a home on South Parksway.

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — "It looks like a graveyard when you turn the corner."

That's how one neighbor describes headstones sitting in front of a house on South Parkway. Many of them include inscriptions, some dating back to the1980s.

Chief Consumer Investigator Zaneta Lowe tracked down the homeowner and uncovered ties to a now-closed cemetery.

More than a dozen of the grave markers sit in a front yard in South Memphis. It's not what you'd expect to see, and the man who put them there was involved with a body-stacking controversy at Galilee Memorial Gardens.

"They're here really for storage purposes," explained Cory Taylor.

Taylor says he plans to open a monument company, but just moved back from Georgia and didn't have anywhere to put the headstones.

But why the front yard?

"The backyard, I was actually busy putting up a shop for the other business so, construction was going on in the back," he said.

Taylor said while these headstones aren't for sale, besides a lack of storage space, he is displaying them to market his future business.

"As far as input from the neighborhood, they love it, I've actually had quite a few customers and neighbors to try to come up and actually try to purchase a stone for their loved one."

One neighbor agreed: "He just doing his thing, so it ain't bothering me."

But not everyone agrees. Someone called Code Enforcement and filed a complaint. A neighbor who didn't want to go on camera said the display is awful and inappropriate.

As far as the names on the stones, Taylor said, "A lot of them, they`re made up, but a lot of them also are family members that may not have completed paying on a stone. I received these out of Georgia."

Taylor was charged with theft of property and abuse of a corpse in 2014 for his alleged role at the now-closed Galilee Memorial Gardens, the Bartlett cemetery where investigators found multiple caskets stacked in single graves.

He wasn't indicted and says he's changed since what happened at Galilee. In fact, he claims the ordeal is what inspired him to consider opening a monument business.

Taylor admitted the connection to Galilee might not look good to some customers, but continued, "No it isn't a good look up front, but I invite anyone that might feel a different type of way, I invite them to come talk to me. It was no ill meaning behind it or intention to hurt anyone."

In the meantime, he says he'll respond to Code.

"These, we were going to move today if I wasn't stuck in traffic leaving from Houston," he said, "but tomorrow morning, I'll start moving them out, I have a crane truck coming by, and I have a warehouse out back and they'll be stored there."

At last check, the headstones were still in the front yard.

We also discovered not all them came from Georgia as Taylor repeatedly claimed. We found several local obituaries with the same names.

When we returned to get clarification, Taylor simply responded by questioning how that pertained to the story.

We've been told that a violation was issued for junky yard and Taylor gets about two weeks to clean that up. We were also told that the county has been notified about the possibility of running an illegal business out of a residential property.

If Taylor doesn't clean it up he could face going to Environmental Court and a fine.

Taylor said he doesn't currently have a business license or anything on file with the state, but plans get that in order soon.

Update: Less than 24 hours after our story aired, the headstones were removed from the property.

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