KANSAS CITY, Missouri - The State of Missouri is considering investigating an east Kansas City cemetery.
For years, people wondered why the graves of their family members disappeared at Blue Ridge Lawn Memorial Gardens and Highland Cemetery.
An NBC Action News investigation revealed there's no guarantee your buried loved ones will be cared for as most people expect.
NBC Action News went with one family on their search for lost graves and buried answers.
Patricia and her sister, Tammy Johnson, have searched unsuccessfully for months to find the man who could locate the gravesites of their brother and mother.
It's a complaint we've heard from families over and over again.
Since 2004, family members have surrounded us on Memorial Day at Blue Ridge Lawn Memorial Gardens and Highland Cemetery. Both are old, yet affordable, exclusive African American cemeteries.
Richard Love has been the cemetery’s owner and operator since 1969. He is also a man who can rarely be found.
It's why dozens of the families said they have found themselves grieving on the holiday for a different reason: grieving the loss of their now lost loved ones.
"My mother's and brother's grave is completely lost. No headstone," Johnson said.
NBC Action News tried finding Love, the cemetery's operator since 1969, as have so many families.
One man on Memorial Day, searching for five lost family members, recalled, "I've left my number 50, 60...80 times."
Love doesn't spend a lot of time in his old, tin office.
NBC Action News ultimately tracked Love down at his house.
When we explained we were there because we had had no success at the cemetery, Love replied, "I've got a messaging box, right by the door."
We told him we had only found a rock inside the box.
Love said, "I can't do anyone any good on Memorial Day."
After a little insistence, Love finally agreed to meet Patricia and NBC Action News at the cemetery.
The family buried their mother and brother at Blue Ridge Lawn Memorial Gardens 10 years ago but within the last year, they say the two mysteriously disappeared from the location they visited every year.
At the cemetery, Love told NBC Action News he had found the graves. Patricia was relieved.
The gravesites were located on crudely recorded sheets of paper in his office. It's a place he rarely allows anyone to go.
Love began to search the grassy hill.
Patricia grew frustrated very quickly. "He should know (where they are). He's got the paper in his hand."
He told us his gravedigger normally does the searching.
Patricia said, frustrated, "I know she's not buried there!"
Love explained the headstones sank somewhere into the ground but he said he doesn't know to go searching for them until a family notifies him. Patricia's family said they've been trying to reach Love since before Mother's Day.
Patricia began to yell, "I don't care if I come out here five years from now. When I come out in five years, I expect to see my mother's gravestone and my brother's."
Love reassured her, "It'll be there."
Patricia yelled again, "Well, where's it at? You can't even find it!"
Love said, "Look, I didn't bring my shovel down here with me."
What consumers need to know is Patricia's problem could their problem, too. The NBC Action News investigation revealed Missouri has no laws requiring the maintenance of graves.
Headstones can disappear into the ground, under high grass, leaving families to dig on their own for their loved ones.
Still, NBC Action News asked Love for an explanation, "The presumption is that they will have a place, a marker , a gravestone, where they will be able to come and remember their loved one forever. So what is it that they're paying for?"
Love offered a short explanation, "No stone in any cemetery is going to remain static."
Patricia said, shaking her head, "I thought he had found it and dug them up and he still haven't."
Love eventually did find the lost loved ones of Barbara in 2004, Shirley, earlier this year and now Patricia and her sister. He found the graves after all of those families had left the cemetery.
Patricia's sister, Tammy Johnson, met us at Blue Ridge Lawn Memorial Gardens days later.
Johnson began to cry when she finally saw the dirt covered headstones. "It's just so emotional. You have to wait all these months. You can't express a mother's love for you, that's what she is."
Patricia said it's time for Love to do a different kind of soul searching.
The Missouri Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division is considering an investigation because the law does require cemeteries to provide maps and records of gravesites.
The law also says cemetery operators must make themselves available to their customers.
The Office of Endowed Care said the only way to make sure your family members' grave is respectfully taken care of is to pay more money for what is called "perpetual care". However, cemeteries that offer perpetual care are few and far between because 90 percent of all Missouri cemeteries are unlicensed and considered