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Woman says she could face jail time because she can't afford husband's cremation

Update :  After this story aired, Southern Cremations offered to perform their services for free but the woman says she is going to use SouthCare Cremation and Funeral Society after it offered to take her husband's body and do the cremation for free.

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A local woman says she could face arrest because she can't afford the funeral expense for her late husband.

A funeral home storing the man's remains said it may press charges for abandonment of a body.

Betty Starnes said she made it clear when her husband’s body was brought to Southern Cremations and Funerals at Cheatham Hill, that she couldn’t pay for it up front. 

But the funeral home tells a different story that could land her in jail.

“It’s just unconscionable when you’ve lost somebody you love,” Starnes told Channel 2’s Justin Wilfon. 

Starnes said it has been nearly two weeks since she lost her husband. Now, she’s worried she could lose her freedom.

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“I went to pieces. I said I’m not going to jail and I’m not a crook,” Starnes told Wilfon. 

When her husband died on Oct. 6, she asked the funeral home to pick up his body. It’s been stored at the Marietta funeral home ever since, awaiting cremation.

Starnes said she can’t afford to pay the nearly $1,000 bill and unless she pays it by Friday or pays to move the body somewhere else, she said the owner of the funeral home is threatening to press charges for abandonment of a body.

“He said this is a felony offense. I said, 'I’m not a felon. I want my husband’s body, but you won’t let me have it. You won’t work with me,'” Starnes said. 

Wilfon went to the funeral home Wednesday night looking for the owner.

He later sent Wilfon a statement, saying:

“Southern Cremations & Funerals at Cheatham Hill is a local, family-owned business that serves hundreds of families every year in their time of need. Cheatham Hill Memorial Park has been assisting families in our community for over 38 years. We take excellent care of our families and provide the highest level of service to them, and their loved ones.

“Southern Cremations & Funerals at Cheatham Hill received a call on October 6 at 2:13pm from Mrs. Betty Starnes requesting that we take her deceased husband, Mr. Kenneth Starnes into our care. We brought him into our care later that day. Mrs. Starnes visited our funeral home on October 7 and was apprised of all the costs associated with the services she requested, and signed a contract for those services at that time. As is reasonable and customary in our industry, Mrs. Starnes understood that payment would be required prior to cremation. She indicated that payment would be rendered by October 9.

“We have not received payment for any of our services and have been actively working with the family for several days to address this unfortunate situation. Mrs. Starnes has been notified of all her options, including alternative resources that she could contact if she needed assistance in paying for the services selected. We are working diligently to resolve this situation. It is unfortunate that Mrs. Starnes has chosen to go directly to the media versus contacting the resources she was given, including our firm transferring her husband to another provider.”

Starnes told Wilfon she was confused when she signed a contract and would be willing to set up a payment plan, but the funeral home’s owner told Wilfon by phone, he wants the payment in full before cremation, which he said is customary in the industry.

“I said we don’t have cash up front. You people knew that coming in,” Starnes said. 

She hopes someone will now help him and keep her out of jail.

“Maybe someone will find it in their heart to help,” Starnes told Wilfon. 

The funeral home’s statement said Starnes has been notified of all her options, including alternative resources that she could contact if she needed assistance in paying for the services selected.

But Starnes said she has exhausted all of her options and no one can help.

Woman says she could face jail time because she can't afford husband's cremation

Update :  After this story aired, Southern Cremations offered to perform their services for free but the woman says she is going to use SouthCare Cremation and Funeral Society after it offered to take her husband's body and do the cremation for free.

----

A local woman says she could face arrest because she can't afford the funeral expense for her late husband.

A funeral home storing the man's remains said it may press charges for abandonment of a body.

Betty Starnes said she made it clear when her husband’s body was brought to Southern Cremations and Funerals at Cheatham Hill, that she couldn’t pay for it up front. 

But the funeral home tells a different story that could land her in jail.

“It’s just unconscionable when you’ve lost somebody you love,” Starnes told Channel 2’s Justin Wilfon. 

Starnes said it has been nearly two weeks since she lost her husband. Now, she’s worried she could lose her freedom.

TRENDING STORIES:

“I went to pieces. I said I’m not going to jail and I’m not a crook,” Starnes told Wilfon. 

When her husband died on Oct. 6, she asked the funeral home to pick up his body. It’s been stored at the Marietta funeral home ever since, awaiting cremation.

Starnes said she can’t afford to pay the nearly $1,000 bill and unless she pays it by Friday or pays to move the body somewhere else, she said the owner of the funeral home is threatening to press charges for abandonment of a body.

“He said this is a felony offense. I said, 'I’m not a felon. I want my husband’s body, but you won’t let me have it. You won’t work with me,'” Starnes said. 

Wilfon went to the funeral home Wednesday night looking for the owner.

He later sent Wilfon a statement, saying:

“Southern Cremations & Funerals at Cheatham Hill is a local, family-owned business that serves hundreds of families every year in their time of need. Cheatham Hill Memorial Park has been assisting families in our community for over 38 years. We take excellent care of our families and provide the highest level of service to them, and their loved ones.

“Southern Cremations & Funerals at Cheatham Hill received a call on October 6 at 2:13pm from Mrs. Betty Starnes requesting that we take her deceased husband, Mr. Kenneth Starnes into our care. We brought him into our care later that day. Mrs. Starnes visited our funeral home on October 7 and was apprised of all the costs associated with the services she requested, and signed a contract for those services at that time. As is reasonable and customary in our industry, Mrs. Starnes understood that payment would be required prior to cremation. She indicated that payment would be rendered by October 9.

“We have not received payment for any of our services and have been actively working with the family for several days to address this unfortunate situation. Mrs. Starnes has been notified of all her options, including alternative resources that she could contact if she needed assistance in paying for the services selected. We are working diligently to resolve this situation. It is unfortunate that Mrs. Starnes has chosen to go directly to the media versus contacting the resources she was given, including our firm transferring her husband to another provider.”

Starnes told Wilfon she was confused when she signed a contract and would be willing to set up a payment plan, but the funeral home’s owner told Wilfon by phone, he wants the payment in full before cremation, which he said is customary in the industry.

“I said we don’t have cash up front. You people knew that coming in,” Starnes said. 

She hopes someone will now help him and keep her out of jail.

“Maybe someone will find it in their heart to help,” Starnes told Wilfon. 

The funeral home’s statement said Starnes has been notified of all her options, including alternative resources that she could contact if she needed assistance in paying for the services selected.

But Starnes said she has exhausted all of her options and no one can help.

10-year-old girl nearly abducted heading to bus stop, police say

A south Fulton County woman says she saw a terrified girl running and screaming for help after police said a man tried to abduct her.

Now, the local community is on high alert as police search for an attempted child abductor. Police say a man in a strange car followed the 10-year-old girl until she ran and screamed. The scene unfolded Monday in a neighborhood along Prestige Place and Highgreen Trail.

“I hear this scream, and it’s just literally a gut-wrenching scream,” neighbor Adrienne Price told Channel 2’s Matt Johnson.

Price said she was helping her own kids into her car for school Monday morning when she says she saw the girl running for her life.

TRENDING STORIES:

“She was saying, 'Somebody is trying to kill me, he's chasing me,' and she's looking back like they're on my tail,” Price said.

It was just before 7 a.m. when Price said she rushed the little girl into her home and called 911. The girl told her that someone in a black four-door sedan with a broken headlight had followed her as she walked to the bus stop at the front of the subdivision.

Surveillance video obtained by Johnson from a neighbor shows a car that matches the description in the same area at around 6:45 a.m.

“I immediately grabbed her to go in the house and I guess they backed up and went the other way,” Price said.

Fulton County police told Johnson they're taking the case very seriously and have increased patrols in and near the subdivision.

The girl's mother didn't want to speak on camera and but told Johnson that her daughter is shaken up by what happened.

Neighbors say they are thankful she drew attention to herself and the situation before anyone was hurt.

“She did the right thing, she did. She did exactly what every child should do, just run hollering and screaming,” Price said.

Police say they don't have a description of the suspect because he never got out of the car and made contact. They say they continue to look for any leads in the case.

10-year-old girl nearly abducted heading to bus stop, police say

A south Fulton County woman says she saw a terrified girl running and screaming for help after police said a man tried to abduct her.

Now, the local community is on high alert as police search for an attempted child abductor. Police say a man in a strange car followed the 10-year-old girl until she ran and screamed. The scene unfolded Monday in a neighborhood along Prestige Place and Highgreen Trail.

“I hear this scream, and it’s just literally a gut-wrenching scream,” neighbor Adrienne Price told Channel 2’s Matt Johnson.

Price said she was helping her own kids into her car for school Monday morning when she says she saw the girl running for her life.

TRENDING STORIES:

“She was saying, 'Somebody is trying to kill me, he's chasing me,' and she's looking back like they're on my tail,” Price said.

It was just before 7 a.m. when Price said she rushed the little girl into her home and called 911. The girl told her that someone in a black four-door sedan with a broken headlight had followed her as she walked to the bus stop at the front of the subdivision.

Surveillance video obtained by Johnson from a neighbor shows a car that matches the description in the same area at around 6:45 a.m.

“I immediately grabbed her to go in the house and I guess they backed up and went the other way,” Price said.

Fulton County police told Johnson they're taking the case very seriously and have increased patrols in and near the subdivision.

The girl's mother didn't want to speak on camera and but told Johnson that her daughter is shaken up by what happened.

Neighbors say they are thankful she drew attention to herself and the situation before anyone was hurt.

“She did the right thing, she did. She did exactly what every child should do, just run hollering and screaming,” Price said.

Police say they don't have a description of the suspect because he never got out of the car and made contact. They say they continue to look for any leads in the case.

Mother heartbroken after her 22-year-old son shot, killed

A mother is opening up about a shooting in which her son was killed at a park earlier this month.

Police told Channel 2's Nefertiti Jaquez that Herman Roberts, 22, was "lured" to Creel Park on October 10, when he was shot multiple times.

No arrests have been made in his murder.

TRENDING STORIES:

Detectives have received a number of tips and leads but say they need witnesses to come forward.

"They robbed my baby of his future," his mother, Tonya Roberts, said.

The 22-year-old artist was found dead in the park, and detectives believe he had been shot about two hours earlier than he was found. That’s because they say neighbors living in a subdivision behind the park called 911 after hearing gunshots in the area.

Detectives say they don't have a suspect or a clear motive but they did say the young father may have been lured here under the guise of shooting a music video only to be set up and shot at least nine times at close range.

They believe he may have been killed after being accused of stealing money.  

"Give me something, give me closure,” his mother told Jaquez.

The “closure” for a mother who’s pain is made greater because she believes her son knew his killer.   “I’m not asking them to come forward, I’m begging them to come forward.”

If you are a witness to this murder and are scared to come forward, police want to make it clear  that they have ways to protect you.

In the mean time Roberts, who leaves behind two young kids, will be laid to rest on Friday.

Teacher who told students to remove 'Make America Great Again'�shirts resigns

A local high school math teacher who made national headlines when she told students wearing “Make American Great Again” shirts to turn them inside out has tendered her resignation to the school board.

Lyn Orletsky was placed on administrative leave in September, shortly after a video of her request was made public.

On Wednesday, Orletsky released a statement, saying she is fearful for her life.

“After attacks on my character and threats on my life, I have made the decision to resign from my teaching position at River Ridge High School,” Orletsky said. “While in hindsight I would have handled the situation differently, the outcry over this incident has been disproportionate to the event itself.”

TRENDING STORIES:

Orletsky previously said she was motivated to ask the students to remove the slogan because it had been used by Neo-Nazis during the violent rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Orletsky told students that wearing the slogan made popular by President Donald Trump was like wearing a swastika.

Orletsky’s resignation is on the agenda set for 7 p.m. Thursday.

Cherokee County Schools spokeswoman Barbara Jacoby confirmed Orletsky’s last day would be Nov. 1 if the board accepts her resignation.

Information from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution was used in this report.

Country star Kenny Chesney set to perform at Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Another major concert is coming to Mercedes-Benz stadium. This time, it's country music star Kenny Chesney.

Chesney will stop in Atlanta during his tour on May 26 of next year.

You may remember hundreds of concertgoers complained the audio was bad during the recent Garth Brooks concert. 

Channel 2's Dave Huddleston spoke with Chesney's sound manager and he said they will plug into the stadium's sound system something that wasn't done at the last concert. He told Huddleston that solved 90-percent of the audio problems.

TRENDING STORIES:

"We looked at what's available where we're going to be and what the house has that we can use to create the best experience for fans," he said.

But does this last experience make fans cautious?

"I will be going," said Martin Fogle.

Fogle says he can't wait to see Chesney perform.

"I'm very excited. He hasn't been here in about three years; that's the kind of concert that's on my to-do list. I haven't seen him yet," he explained.

Officials with Mercedes-Benz want to make sure the audio is clear for Fogle and other fans. Chesney's sound manager told me that won't be an issue for this concert.

"I am confident going in, working with their staff months out, we will produce the best experience for the fan in there," he said.

Kim Solomon loves Chesney and said the stadium sound issues will work themselves out.

"You know everything has its things that have to be worked out, but I know it will be good for us as a city for people like us to go and enjoy."

Chesney's audio manager said he will come back to Atlanta six months prior to the May concert to go over sound with the stadium personnel.

Tickets for the concert go on sale on October 27.

 

 

 

 

 

Teacher who told students to remove 'Make America Great Again'�shirts resigns

A local high school math teacher who made national headlines when she told students wearing “Make American Great Again” shirts to turn them inside out has tendered her resignation to the school board.

Lyn Orletsky was placed on administrative leave in September, shortly after a video of her request was made public.

On Wednesday, Orletsky released a statement, saying she is fearful for her life.

“After attacks on my character and threats on my life, I have made the decision to resign from my teaching position at River Ridge High School,” Orletsky said. “While in hindsight I would have handled the situation differently, the outcry over this incident has been disproportionate to the event itself.”

TRENDING STORIES:

Orletsky previously said she was motivated to ask the students to remove the slogan because it had been used by Neo-Nazis during the violent rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Orletsky told students that wearing the slogan made popular by President Donald Trump was like wearing a swastika.

Orletsky’s resignation is on the agenda set for 7 p.m. Thursday.

Cherokee County Schools spokeswoman Barbara Jacoby confirmed Orletsky’s last day would be Nov. 1 if the board accepts her resignation.

Information from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution was used in this report.

Country star Kenny Chesney set to perform at Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Another major concert is coming to Mercedes-Benz stadium. This time, it's country music star Kenny Chesney.

Chesney will stop in Atlanta during his tour on May 26 of next year.

You may remember hundreds of concertgoers complained the audio was bad during the recent Garth Brooks concert. 

Channel 2's Dave Huddleston spoke with Chesney's sound manager and he said they will plug into the stadium's sound system something that wasn't done at the last concert. He told Huddleston that solved 90-percent of the audio problems.

TRENDING STORIES:

"We looked at what's available where we're going to be and what the house has that we can use to create the best experience for fans," he said.

But does this last experience make fans cautious?

"I will be going," said Martin Fogle.

Fogle says he can't wait to see Chesney perform.

"I'm very excited. He hasn't been here in about three years; that's the kind of concert that's on my to-do list. I haven't seen him yet," he explained.

Officials with Mercedes-Benz want to make sure the audio is clear for Fogle and other fans. Chesney's sound manager told me that won't be an issue for this concert.

"I am confident going in, working with their staff months out, we will produce the best experience for the fan in there," he said.

Kim Solomon loves Chesney and said the stadium sound issues will work themselves out.

"You know everything has its things that have to be worked out, but I know it will be good for us as a city for people like us to go and enjoy."

Chesney's audio manager said he will come back to Atlanta six months prior to the May concert to go over sound with the stadium personnel.

Tickets for the concert go on sale on October 27.

 

 

 

 

 

Former mayor calls for hold on all major contracts until new mayor elected

Former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin has a strong message for city leaders about the ongoing bribery scandal.

"You have to go above and beyond what the expectation is,” Franklin told Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne on Wednesday. 

Franklin told Winne she's stunned that a businessman felt he had to pay $1 million in exchange for contracts.

“I am calling for a hold on major contract bidding and approval by the council until after the new mayor and new council is sworn in, as long as those contracts in doing so does not disrupt legal obligations or disrupt day to day operations,” Franklin said. 

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Franklin said the only contracts that should be approved are the ones necessary by law or to keep the city operating.

“Buying grass seed, buying automobiles, bidding on things that are emergency are the kinds of things I will continue with,” Franklin said. 

Franklin is calling for the freeze because of the hold corruption has on city contracting as painted by federal authorities.

“I know this is a serious matter for Mayor Reed, but I have 21 years of experience in government,” Franklin told Winne. 

RELATED STORIES:

Franklin said her proposal is based in part on two terms as mayor, but also her years as then-Mayor Andrew Young's chief administrative officer.

“I know that it is possible not to disrupt government and to reassure the public that everything is fair and that there is no pay for play,” Franklin said.

She said the idea is not original. At least three mayoral candidates have suggested it recently.

Franklin said of the three guilty pleas so far in the City Hall bribery scandal -- two by contractors and one by former chief procurement officer Adam Smith -- Smith's plea to a conspiracy charge hurt the most since she hired him expecting his sterling resume and, she believed, character would lead to honest procurement.

“Whatever the check and balances on Adam were, failed and then Adam failed,” Franklin said. 

She also acknowledged she and Reed are no longer close.

“People grow apart. But he was my campaign manager,” Franklin said. 

A representative for Reed sent Winne a statement Wednesday, saying: 

“This is the fourth instance where Mayor Franklin has attacked the person who ran her two campaigns for Mayor and who supported her every day during her eight years of service.

"If you check the record, Mayor Reed has refrained from engaging in the kind of behavior demonstrated by Mayor Franklin. We will continue to do so. 

"That said, people who live in glass houses should not throw stones and should invest heavily in curtains.

"Finally, let’s be clear about the city’s contracting and procurements: there is no rush of any kind to move procurements. We are simply running the city government on a day to day basis – as we should be. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false. 

"Moreover, City of Atlanta residents expect us to deliver on Renew Atlanta and TSPLOST projects, pave roads and fix sidewalks. These operations should not stop because we are in the middle of an election, or because of the federal investigation. The City has been working in full cooperation with federal authorities for more than a year - since August 2016 – and assisting them remains our top priority.  

"It is also important to note that over the last 7.5 years, the City of Atlanta has spent more than $16B on contracts and executed thousands of agreements, the overwhelmingly majority of which have moved forward without incident. 

"Out of the 9,000 employees who work for the City, one has admitted guilt and was terminated after working for the City for over 14 years.  We believe that 99.9 percent of the individuals who work for the City of Atlanta come to work every single day with a high level of integrity as evidenced by the unmatched economic results and current financial condition of the City including increasing cash reserves from $7.4 million to more than $175 million, obtaining AA+ credit from Standard and Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch, passing eight consecutive balanced budgets, reducing our pension costs by more than $270 million over ten years, and adding 36,000 jobs to the economy during this Administration. The Reed Administration has put this city in its strongest financial position in 40 years.”

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