In fall 2019, Marva paid a Queens monument company to make a marker for husband and father Elbert Phillips. But months after it was paid in full, instead of installation, the family says they got frustrated.
- It wasn't easy for the widow from Queens to save up more than $5,000 to buy the impressive black granite headstone as a tribute to her late husband. But months after it was paid in full, instead of installation, the family says they got frustration. That's when they asked for help from Nina Pineda and 7 On Your Side.
NINA PINEDA: When Marva Phillips walks through the rows of headstones at the cemetery where her husband is buried, the empty space above him is like the void in her heart.
MARVA PHILLIPS: We were married 43 years, we had six children.
NINA PINEDA: Everyone else where he was laid to rest has a monument, except her Elbert.
MARVA PHILLIPS: It hurts because my mother and father is here, my family's here.
NINA PINEDA: In fall of 2019, Marva paid a Queens monument company to make a marker for her husband, Elbert Phillips.
MARVA PHILLIPS: I gave her $5,100. I ordered it two years ago. I gave her half.
NINA PINEDA: The contract shows she paid the second half in July of last year. The monument should have been finished and installed last November. So she went to the Queens business, but instead found a beauty shop and no forwarding address.
MARVA PHILLIPS: Even when she went out of business here in Astoria, she never called me.
NINA PINEDA: Does she pick up your call now?
MARVA PHILLIPS: She doesn't answer no phone calls, no text, no nothing.
NINA PINEDA: Her son Jamil tracked the monument company to a new location in Manhattan.
JAMIL PHILLIPS: Going to the location, usually no one's there. We've reached out to you and no one calls us back.
NINA PINEDA: So they called us and we contacted them.
Hi, it's Nina Pineda calling with 7 On Your Side.
The owner said she had a special order-- a large, double-sided stone-- and then the rough winter weather delayed installation for months. There was COVID delays with delivery, and shipping, and staffing. She denied ever ghosting the family, but promised to install ASAP. And in just a few days, you're crying tears of joy, I hope.
MARVA PHILLIPS: Yes, yes.
NINA PINEDA: The granite tribute to her husband, finally in place.
MARVA PHILLIPS: I'm so excited. I am so pleased. I mean, somebody listened to me.
JAMIL PHILLIPS: A friend of mine said, reach out to channel 7, and you guys have been really incredible.
MARVA PHILLIPS: Just have to thank you because you listened and you did it.
NINA PINEDA: In Astoria, Nina Pineda, channel 7 Eyewitness News.