Rotting corpses, re-used caskets: 5 incidents involving funeral homes

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Rotting corpses, re-used caskets: 5 incidents involving funeral homes

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Premium Mortuary Services had its license revoked earlier this month by the Ohio Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors after it found 15 violations, including that the business failed to keep seven deceased human bodies, not yet embalmed, inside a working refrigerator. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

It was reported this week that a Dayton area family filed a civil lawsuit against Premium Mortuary Services in Carlisle.

Premium Mortuary Services had its license revoked earlier this month by the Ohio Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors after it found 15 violations, including that the business failed to keep seven deceased human bodies, not yet embalmed, inside a working refrigerator.

Problems at such businesses have recently happened across the country.

Here are five examples we found:

OHIO

To mask the stench of 11 decomposing bodies, a Toledo funeral home employee stuffed dryer sheets into an air vent, according to an August 2015 Cleveland Plain Dealer report.

Authorities found eight bodies in a garage, two in the chapel and one in the embalming room at Tate Funeral Services of Toledo. Seven of the bodies were in white bags or cardboard cremation crates.

A Lucas County grand jury in July 2015 indicted owner Robert Tate on charges of abusing corpses.

WISCONSIN

It was reported in Wisconsin this past November that most complaints about funeral homes in the state were not investigated, according to the Milwaukee Fox affiliate, FOX6. The television station reported that dozens of families complained and grievances included burying the wrong body, losing remains, re-using caskets and cremating bodies without permission.

The television station also reported that over the past three years, half of all complaints were closed without any investigation, and only 12 percent resulted in an order of discipline.

FLORIDA

There were multiple reports in Florida that a funeral director and the daughter of a funeral home’s owner were charged in August 2016 with a combined 16 counts of unlawful storage of human remains.

Bay County deputies received a tip about bodies being improperly stored at Brock’s Home Town Funeral Home near Panama City. Ten bodies were found in a refrigeration unit, but it was set at 62 degrees, not at the required 40 degrees. Another six bodies were found being stored without any refrigeration.

None of the bodies had been embalmed.

MICHIGAN

A funeral home in Flint, Michigan this past May had put the wrong body in a casket for a funeral, according to local Fox affiliate Q13Fox.

The funeral home, Swanson Funeral Home, had dressed the decedent in the clothes the family picked out, and eventually – after an initial denial – brought out the right body.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office was investigating Swanson Funeral Home last November after a state inspector reportedly found decomposing bodies in a garage.

In June, the Detroit CBS affiliate, reported the funeral home was shuttered after inspectors with Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs suspended the license of Swanson Funeral Home, Inc. as well as the individual mortuary science license of its manager, O’Neil D. Swanson, II, due to multiple violations — including the presence of maggots, human blood and rotting corpses stored without refrigeration.

PENNSYLVANIA

A West Philadelphia funeral home director was charged in September 2015 after decomposing bodies were found inside Hawkins Funeral Parlor, and police say the funeral home was operating with an expired license.

Blair Hawkins was charged with three counts of abuse of corpse after a tip to state investigators. Investigators found three bodies, two of which were decomposing. The third body had been embalmed and was in a casket awaiting cremation.

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