Official: After 11 bodies found, funeral home may be cited

AP News
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Posted: Jun 01, 2015 7:57 PM

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — The head of the Ohio Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors said Monday that she'll recommend administrative charges and license suspensions for a Toledo funeral home where 11 bodies intended for cremation were found in a damp room.

The board will have a special meeting Tuesday to hear about the investigation, consider evidence of possible violations and decide whether there should be a change in the licensing status of the funeral home and its director, said Vanessa Niekamp, the board's executive director.

She said she'll recommend the board issue violations regarding unprofessional conduct in handling 10 bodies and improper embalming of two of those bodies.

A statement from the funeral home says it provided embalming in accordance with state law. Its attorney says any delay in cremation resulted from physicians failing to provide death certificates in a timely manner.

The Lucas County coroner's office says the bodies of 10 adults and a premature infant were found on Friday. Authorities found the bodies were being stored in cremation boxes and body bags. Officials say at least one body had been there since January.

The coroner's office has indicated the affected families have been notified about the discovery.

Niekamp said she had no concerns about violations regarding one of the bodies, the person who was most recently deceased. She wouldn't discuss the funeral home's background or further details of the pending investigation ahead of Tuesday's meeting.

Five board members will hear her recommendations and discuss whether to move forward with any administrative charges, Niekamp said. If they decide to do so, they could choose to immediately suspend the relevant licenses, have a hearing on the matter or possibly issue financial penalties for the funeral home, she said.

She said representatives of the funeral home could attend the public hearing but would not have an opportunity to present their side.