Hundreds of people are demanding answers after they say an area meat supplier ripped them off.
 
We first brought you the story about Alexander-King Farms back in May of 2016. The company, based out of Atkinson, Illinois, had local farms raise hogs and cows, then Alexander-King sold them.
 
Customers could go online and order different cuts of meat to be delivered, but many people say, after paying hundreds of dollars, their meat never came. Now those customers are demanding answers, as county and state officials investigate the company, working with the owner to figure out where the money and the meat really went.
 
“At first it seemed very legitimate,” said Julie Kaiser.
 
Last October, Kaiser saw an Alexander-King Farms ad on Facebook. She ordered half a hog and half a cow; all in all, about $800 worth of meat. “We have a large extended family and we always seem to have somebody out for dinner,” said Kaiser. 
 
Kaiser’s half hog was supposed to arrive in February, but it never did. “They didn’t answer calls. They didn’t answer on the website. They didn’t answer on Facebook. They didn’t answer email. I got no response for approximately two weeks. I continued to badger,” said Kaiser.
 
Kaiser says owner Bethany Alexander did eventually call her back. Alexander told her the hogs weren’t growing right, but her meat should arrive by early March.
 
“It wasn’t until finally later March that I said well I happen to live locally, so I’m going to come out tomorrow with law enforcement to get my half  hog that I have already paid for,” said Kaiser.
 
That got Alexander’s attention. Julie’s meat arrived the next day, but she says it was much less than she paid for, and the cuts of meat were not what she ordered.
 
Alexander-King Farms used to operate online and, for a short while, at a storefront in Geneseo. Both the online and Geneseo stores are now closed. Alexander-King Farms did fill some orders, but many people say they never got the hundreds of dollars worth of meat they were owed.
 
Hundreds of those who say they were scammed by the company have taken to Facebook, sharing their stories on the “People against Alexander-King Farms” page. When we first reported this story in May, about 300 people had come forward saying the company owed them money. Now, that number has risen to more than 800 people in 22 states owed an estimated total of nearly $360,000.
 
So we asked, “Where is that money? Where did that money go?” 
 
“Well first off, that doesn’t seem like quite an accurate number,” said Jeremy Karlin.
 
Karlin and Justin Raver are the lawyers with Barash and Everett law firm. They’re representing Alexander as she faces some of her former customers in court. The attorneys say this is just a case of a business growing too quickly.
 
“This is not a scam. It’s a circumstance where a business and a person with the best intentions went into business to provide a service that she thought that she could do well. And for a period of time, she could. Because of circumstances that were beyond her control, that ultimately didn’t happen,” said Karlin.
 
So why didn’t it happen? We went to talk to Detective Joe Bedford at the Henry County Sheriff’s Office about it. He’s investigating 162 complaints against the company. Those are just the complaints that have come across his desk; the Better Business Bureau has dealt with more than 300 complaints.
 
Both Detective Bedford and Alexander’s lawyers say many factors led to the company closing its doors.
 
“The business grew too fast. The production costs for slaughtering and processing the pigs became unexpectedly more expensive,” said Karlin.
 
“I don’t know if it was a point of her getting overwhelmed and not being able to fill the orders. I don’t know if it was animal dead loss. I don’t know exactly what it was, but there comes to a point when things are going south, the right person would put their foot down and say ‘Hey look I can’t take any more orders. We’re having a lot of problems. We’re going to reorganize and come back at ya. If you want your money back, I’ll give you your money back,” said Det. Bedford.
 
We tried to talk to Bethany Alexander in person, but she did not want to be on camera.
 
Detective Bedford says he’s been sharing the findings from his investigation with the Illinois Attorney General’s Office. They’re working to investigate Alexander-King Farms, as well. You can see a sample complaints about Alexander-King Farms submitted to Attorney General’s office here.
 
Bedford says he’s not yet been able to bring criminal charges against Alexander.
 
“Our big hold up right here is we have to prove criminal intent. We have to prove that she actually knew that she was taking people’s money and not going to give them the items that they paid for,” said Det. Bedford.
 
So far, proving Beth Alexander knowingly took orders she couldn’t fill hasn’t been easy, and her lawyers say that’s not what happened.
 
“This isn’t a situation where Ms. Alexander pocketed people’s money. It’s essentially a situation where, because the business failed, she’s left without money as well,” said Karlin.
 
Right now, the attorneys say they’re working with customer’s credit card companies to try to get refunds issued that way. They also say Alexander could declare bankruptcy. Raver says what makes this case different is the way the company’s former customers are reacting.
 
“I understand anger. I understand being angry and upset, but we find there’s a greater animosity, almost to a personal level,” said Raver.
 
And it’s true: Comments online say things like “I cannot believe the nerve of this lady” and “Do not let her win this fight”. So we asked Julie Kaiser: Why is everyone so angry about this?
 
“This feels more personal because it’s local. It’s our neighbors and it’s just astonishing that someone here could do that and sleep at night,” said Kaiser.
 
Whether or not Bethany Alexander knowingly took from her customers has yet to be determined, but dozens of people we spoke with say, at the end of the day, they don’t really care what her intent was. They just want their money back.
 
“I’d love to know where the money went. I would love to know,” said Kaiser.
 
A question we may never know the answer to if authorities never bring charges against Bethany Alexander.
 
Bethany Alexander will be back in court in henry county on December 20th.
 
The U.S. Department of Agriculture at one time was also investigating Alexander-King Farms, looking into claims that her meat may not have been organic, as stated on the company’s website. That investigation ended when Alexander-King Farms closed.
 
Law enforcement officials recommend anyone who ordered meat from Alexander-King Farms and didn’t get it to file a civil suit against Bethany Alexander in your local jurisdiction. Here are instructions from the “People Against Alexander-King Farms” page:  “When you go to your local court house to file, please list “Beth Alexander D.B.A. Alexander King Farms” as the defendant and include as [many] details you can. Then mail two copies of the paperwork to: Henry County Sheriff office 311 W Center Street, Cambridge, IL 61238 along with a check for $60.00. They will make sure Beth Alexander gets served. If you have any questions on this, Joe Bedford will be gladly to help you. (309) 937-3911.”
 
Learn more about how to protect yourself from scams here.
 
See our original story on Alexander-King Farms here.