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Funeral home 'haunted house' stirs controversy

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ROGERSVILLE, Mo. (KY3) -- This time of year, frightful attractions across the Ozarks of Missouri welcome thrill seekers.

One particular Halloween haunted house, though, finds itself at the center of controversy.

The Rogersville Horror Story will be open several nights later this month. But its location, the old Preston-Marsh Funeral Home, is the point of contention and concern.

"I understand why people are upset. But, it is just a building," said neighbor Christie Davis. "But, the [deceased] people are no longer there. Everybody in Rogersville has had friends or family go through this funeral home. I know I have."

The facility has been closed for a while and is slated for demolition. The property owner offered the temporary use of the site to Logan-Rogersville High School Project Graduation. The group will use the building to host a haunted house fundraiser, with proceeds going toward a safe celebration event for seniors on graduation night.

Davis expressed, "Some of us have friends that have lost their children on graduation nights in years past, and this is just a great way to prevent that from happening to somebody else."

But, not everybody is happy with the thought of a funeral home being used as a funhouse. Facebook forums have blown up, with a few people expressing their disgust. Many have made posts saying the idea is distasteful, and it's insensitive to use a place of grief and mourning to make a mockery of death. Others say Preston-Marsh was the last place they saw their loved ones, and would rather not see the place turned into an attraction.

One individual said it's akin to opening a strip club in an old church.

Event organizers say, when the funeral home was shut down, a lot of the old equipment was left behind: things like gurneys used for the intake and processing of the deceased. Those items will be used as props during the event -- a plan creating more concern for those not happy with the facility being used for the attraction.

Rogersville Horror Story said, "people in opposition, have been so hateful and threatening - personally and to people's jobs..."

Meanwhile, many opponents say they're the ones that have been targetted by verbal attacks. Several people opposed to the haunted house expressed their opinions in emails and Facebook messages to Gray affiliates KY3-KSPR, but chose not to go on camera

Despite the controversy, planners of the event say they're not backing down, and the event is still on. The haunted house will be open for a total of five nights this month: October 20-21, 27-28 and 31.

Read the original version of this article at ky3.com.