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On Your Side Investigation: Fallen Springfield Officer Walsh has no headstone

Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 10:16 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - A Springfield police officer who was killed on the job more than one year ago, does not have a headstone.

It was a day many remember in March of 2020. 32-year-old Springfield Police Officer Chris Walsh died in the line of duty. He was responding to a mass shooting at a gas station on East Chestnut Expressway. Four civilians also lost their lives. A Kum and Go worker, WCA worker and customer died. The shooter killed himself.

Before Walsh, it was nearly 90 years ago since a Springfield Police Department officer died on the job. Officer Walsh was a husband, father, veteran, Glendale and OTC graduate. He was laid to rest with honors.

The next time you drive on the U.S. 60 and U.S. 65 interchange, know that a few yards away, by the tree line, Sheri Walsh might be talking with her husband, her high school sweetheart.

“I tell him I love him. That I think about him everyday,” she said.

Officer Chris Walsh loved her, for more than half his life.

“I just want him to be a part of my new life and this is his space now,” she said.

A space that’s not complete.

“I’ve seen other people get buried and have their markers placed and we’re just waiting,” said Walsh.

What’s next to her is a temporary marker. Officer Walsh’s best friends placed it there a few weeks ago. Before that, Sheri says you could not find his final resting place.

“We would come out here it was just dirt. Completely in grass and it was grown over. I just want him to have a space to show he was loved,” she said.

A young widow’s wish, for a life cut short. He ran into danger to protect and serve.

“I just want his space to represent all that we love about him. And it just feels like it’s nothing,” Walsh said as she cried.

Walsh paid more than $16,000 for the monument when she ordered it in December. She says the company promised it would be delivered in March, for the anniversary, when Officer Chris Walsh gave all.

“This isn’t acceptable. I need to know more information. And found out the order was never processed,” Walsh said.

Then she had a new deadline.

“I was told the bench would at least be here by Memorial Day. I was guaranteed. My daughter doesn’t want to come out because she says it doesn’t feel like anything,” she said.

Officer Walsh’s best friend since third grade, Andrew Stallcup, wants answers.

“It’s hard enough knowing he’s not present, but where he’s supposed to be present, there’s nothing to remind us that he’s here,” Stallcup said.

He served overseas in combat zones with Walsh, twice.

“When places like Rivermonte don’t hold up their end of the deal, it makes it difficult to move forward with the grieving. We just really want that solved,” Stallcup said.

On Your Side called Rivermonte Memorial Gardens and asked for an interview. Ashley Reynolds was told to call their corporate office. She left a voicemail.

According to Missouri state documents, Rivermonte, is owned by a company called StoneMor, based in Pennsylvania. StoneMor operates more than three hundred cemeteries and ninety funeral homes in twenty-five states. It has an ‘F’ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

Last spring, one month after Walsh’s funeral, the Pennsylvania Attorney General filed a civil lawsuit against Stonemor. It reads the company ‘violated Consumer Protection Law’. StoneMor agreed to a settlement and paid $50,000 to the state.

“StoneMor is in our own backyard so we have taken a number of complaints with them, said Michael Bannon, Director of the Bucks County Consumer Protection in Pennsylvania.

Bannon says his office has acquired refunds and monuments for StoneMor customers.

“Some of it is supply chain issues related to COVID. Some of it I think is just problems with the company that the industry is having,” said Bannon.

On Your Side told Bannon about this situation.

“It would be an honor for us in the Bucks County Consumer Protection Department to help this officer and their family resolve this very sad problem. We would be happy to do that,” said Bannon.

After repeated requests for an interview, On Your Side heard back from the Springfield location. General Manager Andrea Peabody sent an email. It reads: Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We are working directly with the family at this time to address their concerns.

That was five days ago. Stallcup says they haven’t heard from the general manager.

“Chris did a really awesome thing for our community. In a lot of ways it feels like that’s old news. I know time goes on. It hasn’t stopped or changed for me, for my family, but at least if we had our marker, we could grieve in the way we want to grieve for the next ten, 20, years and it wouldn’t feel like we were waiting for something to happen,” said Walsh.

On Your Side has not heard back from StoneMor’s corporate office. There’s no balance on Walsh’s account. She paid the $16,000 in full when she ordered it. On Your Side will continue to follow this story to help Walsh get answers.

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