The Good Shepherd Memorial Park has been a maintenance concern for approximately two decades due to ownership changes. Outfitted with a reinforced concrete mausoleum adorned with granite and Italian marble, it was all but abandoned in 2003 and condemned in 2015 because of absentee owners and a lack of maintenance.
Abandoned by prior owners, the 6.08-acre cemetery is now officially orphaned with no governmental entities willing to take on the liability and responsibility for its upkeep.
History of Abandoned Good Shepherd Mausoleum
The Good Shepherd cemetery was created in 1976 by owners known collectively as Westminster Associates. Ownership was transferred to Larry Deminski, who incorporated the cemetery as the Westminster Memorial Garden, in 1983. However, ownership of the cemetery was never officially recorded under Deminski or the church, property records show.
The property was donated to the Unity Light of Christ Church in 2001, although the transfer of the land was never officially recorded. Deminski told a Times Leader reporter in 2003, a year before his death, that $15,000 set aside in a perpetual care fund for the crypt and plot maintenance was gone, alleging someone forged his signature on a bank deposit slip to obtain the money.
By 2003, the property was overgrown and neglected, and there was more than $20,000 owed in unpaid taxes on the cemetery. The water and electricity had been shut off. Deminski died in February 2004 and Lawrence Lee and Viktoriia Evstafieva bought the cemetery for $4,500 in county back-tax auction a year later in 2005.
The couple went to court in 2012, claiming that the property should have been tax-exempt as a burial ground and never listed for auction. The county successfully maintained the statute of limitations to challenge a sale had run out and that the property was rightfully listed for sale because the former owner never obtained tax-exempt status.
Lee and Evstafieva failed to maintain the property and the mausoleum was condemned. In June of 2015, code enforcement officials roped off the outdoor crypt areas with yellow police tape and locked the mausoleum for safety reasons.
Described as peaceful and beautiful 30 years ago, today the structure is so unstable that people can’t pay respect to their loved ones. Although it’s been so long since the police tape went up that it’s now gone, locks and chains still hang heavily at the doorway, prohibiting anyone from entering the crumbling final resting place of its inhabitants.