Monday, May 21, 2012

60 Minutes Feature: Final Resting Place, A Must See for Consumers

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Ohio Funeral Home Worker Sexually Abused Corpse

H.H. Birkenkamp is owned by Houston-based Service Corporation International


Toledo, Ohio

Police in Toledo have arrested an employee of H.H. Birkenkamp Funeral Home, owned by Houston-based Service Corporation International (NYSE:SCI), for sexually abusing a corpse. Lawrence J. Clement was taken into custody on Thursday. Another employee walked in and caught Clement involved in a sexual act with the corpse.

According to investigators, employees with the H.H. Birkenkamp Funeral Home called the 51-year-old victim's family members to report that one of their staff members had sexually abused her corpse.

The funeral home reportedly offered to waive the $11,000 funeral fee if the family did not call police. The family rejected the funeral home's offer, contacted police and had the victim transferred to another funeral home.

Clement was booked into the Lucas County Jail and charged with abuse of a corpse.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Funeral Home: No Electricity, Bones on Roof and Decomposing Corpses


Chicago, Illinois

Family members and police were recently gathered outside of Carter Funeral Chapel in Chicago. This time, however, they were not on-hand to attend a funeral. Instead, they were demanding to know what has happened to their relatives remains after police found the funeral home in a 'state of disarray'.

Police first discovered deeply disturbing evidence outside of the funeral home. Bones were found on the roof and it was discovered that this particular funeral home had no working electricity. The funeral home had previously been shut-down after it was discovered that frozen water bottles were being used to preserve dead bodies inside.

Police said they found a back door off its hinges, confirmed no power or heating inside the building and bodies in ‘various states of preparation’ (otherwise meaning decomposed).

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Family Sues Kentucky Cemetery After Deceased Grandmother Is Dropped Head-First Out Of Casket


Frankfort, Kentucky

A family in Kentucky is suing the owners of a local cemetery after they allegedly dropped the casket, causing their deceased grandmother to fall out of the casket, head-first into the burial plot.

The family’s attorney says 85-year-old Katherine Galbraith was being buried at the Sunset Memorial Gardens last March when cemetery workers reportedly dropped the casket, causing Galbraith to fall head-first out of the casket to the ground.

Several of the woman's personal belongings fell out of the casket and into the grave, including a rose and pearl necklace.

Investigators say the workers were attempting to lower the casket into the grave using a backhoe instead of a standard lowering mechanism when they dropped and broke the casket.

Galbraith's daughter, Ruth Ritter, stated that the cemetery called and informed her that the casket had been scratched, but didn't disclose that her mother's body had actually fallen out of the casket.

Instead of telling the family the truth, the family said the cemetery covered it up and treated their mother's body like trash.

The cemetery later disinterred the deceased woman's remains so that family members could see the extent of the damage. Family members noted that mud and several abrasions were found on the deceased woman's body and the casket had been badly damaged.

The woman was then reburied two days later.

Family members describe Galbraith as a meticulous person, pointing at that she even wore lipstick and earrings each day at the hospital.

The lawsuit against the cemetery alleged negligence, mishandling of a corpse, fraud and conspiracy for not explaining the extent of the damage.

There are additional complaints about this particular cemetery.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Burr Oak Cemetery Manager Heading To Prison For 12 Years

Carolyn Towns - The former manager of Burr Oak Cemetery

Chicago, Illinois

The convicted ringleader of the macabre Burr Oak Cemetery burial plot-reselling scheme turned herself in today to begin serving her 12-year prison sentence, authorities said.

Carolyn Towns, 51, of Blue Island, pleaded guilty in July to six charges, including desecration of human remains, removal of the remains of multiple deceased people from a burial ground and conspiracy to dismember multiple human bodies.

In July, she was sentenced to 12 years in state prison, but was given the time to make arrangements for the care of her elderly mother, said one of Towns’ attorney, Richard Kling.

“Sometimes good people do foolish things … It’s very sad. She’s a sweet lady and she’s going to pay a dear price,” he said.

She was one of four cemetery employees charged two years ago when the grave-digging scheme was exposed. Backhoe operator Maurice Dailey, 61, of Robbins; foreman Keith Nicks, 47 and dump-truck operator Terrence Nicks, 41, both of Chicago were also charged. Their cases are pending.

In July 2009, authorities revealed that workers at Burr Oak were reselling graves and dumping hundreds of old remains in an abandoned, weed-covered lot, Dart said.

The discovery shocked the region’s black community because of the cemetery’s special significance to African-Americans. Burr Oak was the area’s first cemetery to allow blacks to be interred there, and countless African-American families would bury relatives there over the years.

Towns was accused of stealing more than $100,000 from the corporation that operated the cemetery, officials with the Cook County state’s attorney’s office said.

Prosecutors said Towns would accept cash payments from grieving families and keep the money. She would then instruct the gravediggers to bury the bodies in plots that were already occupied. In some cases, the diggers would stack new coffins on top of old ones, authorities said. Or they would remove the old remains and bury the new ones there.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Police: Former Funeral Director Charged With Theft of Preneed Funeral Funds

Hartford, Connecticut

A former funeral home director in Hartford has been arrested.
Geneva County Sheriff Deputies have arrested Jason Shephard and are charging him with eight counts of Theft By Deception. The charges stem from an investigation into the pre-need funeral home accounting practices of the funeral home owned by Shephard.

After an investigation by Hartford Police, the case information was presented to a Geneva County Grand Jury which returned indictments.
Shepard had moved to Georgia and was arrested in Georgia.

The deceptive practices came to light following complaints from families that had paid pre-need funerals.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Funeral Director Charged With Stealing From Widow: Police Suspect More Victims

Maureen Purcell is accused of theft

Louisville, Kentucky

A funeral home director is facing charges after police say she stole thousands of dollars from an elderly widow and now, police believe there may be more victims.

According to Louisville Metro Police, the funeral director, Maureen Purcell, met the 89-year-old victim when she came into Ratterman Brothers Funeral Home in St. Matthews. Police say the victim went there to have her husband's remains cremated. They say Purcell then befriended the woman, knowing she had no family nearby.

Police say Purcell was able to get power of attorney over the victim, and at that point started stealing from her almost every day.

Purcell was released from jail on her own recognizance. Police say she admitted to stealing $8,000 out of the $10,000 that she's charged with.

The Ratterman Brothers Funeral Home says they are completely surprised by the arrest. Purcell has a bad credit history, and has had several lawsuits filed against her.
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