Deathcare-Industry Scandal Roundup

You know you are dying to go for a ride with Siouxsie.

It’s time to gas up the hearse.  C’mon, take a trip with Siouxsie around the “good ol’ US of A” to catch up on the latest in cemetery/funeral home scandals.


The Waterbury Funeral Home managed to mix up two bodies.  As reported at this link, when a family arrived for their great-grandmother’s wake, they discovered the wrong body in the casket.  Yikes.  Even worse, the family later learned that the Waterbury Funeral Home mistakenly cremated the body of their great-grandmother.  The incident is now under investigation.

New Mexico

The DeVargas Funeral Home and Crematory of the Española Valley accidentally sent home a brain in the bag containing a decedent’s personal effects.  Gross.  As reported in the Albuquerque Journal the family discovered the brain when:

the relatives “smelled a foul odor coming from the bag” they received from DeVargas Funeral Home and Crematory of the Española Valley, according to a lawsuit filed on behalf of four family members in state District Court in Albuquerque. The bag had been left inside a family member’s truck overnight. When family members opened it, they found, along with the woman’s belongings, a separate bag that was labeled with her name and the word “brain,” the lawsuit alleges.

The DeVargas Funeral Home blames the original funeral home in Utah that handled the body.  The owner of Serenicare, the Utah funeral home, explains that

the woman’s brain went into a bag because it had sustained substantial trauma from the crash.  “Rather than try to reinsert the brain into a damaged head, it is common practice to ship it inside a bag,” he said.  He said said the bag containing the brain was placed in a casket with the rest of the remains for transport to New Mexico and eventual burial.  [Source]

The Sereincare funeral home asserts that any negligence in handling the brain lies with the DeVargas funeral home.

Last week, the family filed a lawsuit against the DeVargas Funeral Home and Crematory of the Española Valley, Serenicare Funeral Home in Draper, Utah; and Inman Shipping Worldwide, the shipping company that transported the body to New Mexico from Utah.


A state court sentenced a Missouri funeral director who deliberately gave the wrong ashes to grieving families and discarded decaying corpses in his basement.  As reported,

State officials ordered the Warren Funeral Chapel in Columbia to close in July 2008 after a woman’s body was found stored in an electrical room for 10 months without being embalmed or refrigerated. Investigators later found several more rotting bodies and a garbage bag filled with organs.

Harold Warren, the 77-year-old former funeral director, received a very lenient sentence.  Mr. Warren received no jail time and will be able to serve out his sentence on house arrest and probation.


The Chicago Tribune reports that the state Senate approved legislation that would impose requirements on cemetery operators and create a state agency to provide oversight.  The legislation is in response to the Burr Oak scandal that broke last summer when people discovered that workers were digging up bodies and reselling plots.


An April 5th trial date is set for Clayton Smart.  He is a 69-year-old Oklahoma oilman who been in jail since April 2007 over allegations that his Indian Nation company embezzled around 70 million dollars from trust funds at cemeteries it owned in Tennessee and Michigan.  Consumers intended that their  money to go towards funerals and maintenance of plots (preneed services), but the owners of the cemeteries put the cash into speculative investments and private accounts.  Source.

Photo credit:


~ by siouxsielaw on January 17, 2010.

2 Responses to “Deathcare-Industry Scandal Roundup”

  1. That brain in the bag story was just horrifying!! PS I told one of my goth lawyer friends about your blog, and she was very interested 🙂

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