Victims of Wichman Monuments speak against possible plea
One of the most difficult processes of their lives was disrupted, and now people who call themselves victims of Wichman Monuments say they fear they won't get the resolution they wanted.
NewsChannel 9 covered the story extensively after grieving families reached out to us in February of 2018, saying owner Trent Wichman took their money to purchase headstones for their loved ones and did not follow through on purchases. A grand jury indicted Wichman on eight counts of theft in November of 2018. The company eventually closed and turned over the handling of its business to a third party.
Now, as Trent Wichman's case winds through the court system, the victims listed in the indictments say the District Attorney's office started reaching out to them to discuss the possibility of a plea deal. Wichman is due in court on August 13th.
Jim Mykytyn says he paid Wichman money for his father’s headstone. He says he spoke to the DA’s office who told them Wichman’s attorney is asking for no additional jail time above what he served when he was arrested.
"When you're dealing with a headstone after the death of a loved one, I think there should be a special place in hell for folks like that," Mykytn said.
We've spoken to several of the victims listed in the indictment who are angry about this possibility, saying probation isn't enough to make up for their pain and suffering. It's been about two years since Sandra Priest lost her mother.
"This was the last thing I was going to be able to do for my mother," Priest said. "And for it to go wrong is something I'll remember every time I visit her."
In January of 2018, Priest ordered a headstone. She says spent $9,225 and she never received the headstone.
"It was a remarkable headstone," she added. Wichman Monuments gave her a picture of what her mother's gravestone would like with an engraving that reads, "Beloved mother and grandmother we will carry you in our hearts forever."
Priest says she was shocked. She says she had used Wichman Monuments for the past 30 years. She says she knew Wichman.
"I was mad on top of grieving," Priest said.
Court documents show a warrant went out on July 12 for Wichman. Wichman bonded out the same day, serving less than 24 hours behind bars.
"I think he needs to do something for the community and the public," Priest said. "Show that he really is sorry for what he did. It just wasn't right to take advantage of people at that time."
Many of the families who originally paid Wichman have now received headstones for their loved ones, including the man who originally reached out to us about his situation. Jason Holcomb with A&R Holdings says their company has completed about 120 headstones for families who originally paid money to Wichman. He says there are only two outstanding accounts and they are having trouble getting in touch with those families. Other families opted for a refund instead.
NewsChannel 9 has reached out to the DA’s office to ask if they are considering a plea, but a spokesperson said they can't comment. We've also reached out to Wichman's attorney for comment. News Channel 9 has not heard back.
This is a developing story and will be updated.