Tombstone Troubles

January 20, 2003 was one of the saddest days for Sulema Sandoval and her family.

It was the day her 84-year-old mother, passed away.

She's buried at the Port Isabel City Cemetery, in a grave decorated with an abundance of flowers.

However, there's something missing - a tombstone that Sandoval said, the family is desperately trying to get.

"(We want the tombstone) so she can be recognized and everybody can see who is here," she said.

Sandoval said the family paid about $1,800 to order a red marble, heart-shaped tombstone at Torres Monuments in Donna.

She claims the owner, Alvino Torres, did not uphold his end of their business contract for the stone.

"We hadn't heard from him and we would go look for him and he was never there, Sandoval said. I think that (the money) my sister gave him, for all those years we've been waiting for the tombstone, and it's not right for him to want to not give it to us yet." Action 4 News spoke to Torres on the phone and he said he's been in business for 39 years and never had a problem like this one. He admits he misplaced the family's contact number and the contract years ago, but claims the family never came looking for the tombstone they wanted, until recently.

Torres said he sold the tombstone after years of holding on to it.

"If it's your loved one and all this and that, why would they let it go this far," Torres said.

Torres adds he's willing to order a new stone for the family at his own expense, if the family pays the remaining balance they originally owed of about $1,000.

"I'll get them a stone again even though the stone is worth a lot more money now, than what it was eight years ago, Torres said. Sandoval said the family should not have to pay a penny more after so much waiting, and they want the ordeal to be over.

"My sister has gotten stressed out (because of it) and she doesn TMt want to deal with him anymore, so I told her I was going to take over (in dealing with him), Sandoval said. I don't know if I have to move every rock in this world, I'm going to get her a tombstone."

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