Indiana Funeral Director Faces 36 New Criminal Charges

September 17, 2010
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Investigators recovered two human bodies and at least 10 animal carcasses in a building next to R.D Pyke Funeral Home in Henryville this week.

Little information about the two human bodies was released at a multi-agency press conference Thursday at the Indiana State Police Post, but the animal remains were said to be badly decomposed.

Meanwhile, funeral director Rick Pyke, 42, is being held in the Clark County Jail without bond, and his son, 19-year-old Richard ?Bradley? Pyke, was released on recognizance after both were arrested Wednesday night on a class D felony theft charge.

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THE INVESTIGATION

Larry Harvey, director of compliance for the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency, said he received a call from a concerned citizen May 7 about a ?distinct smell coming from the facility.?

He received another call from a local funeral director who said there were two human bodies in the building.

Harvey arrived at the funeral home Monday, and Bradley Pyke allowed him in the building. After discovering the human and animal remains, he called the Indiana State Police to begin an investigation. The human bodies were transported to a facility licensed by the Clark County coroner.

The building where the remains were found was described as an out-building south of the funeral home, where cremations and embalmings were performed.

Mike Meyer, administrator for the Clark County Health Department, said there were three dogs found in a freezer waiting to be cremated and about seven or eight that appeared to be in the cremation process.

?They were badly decomposing, and insects were starting to eat at the bodies,? Meyer said.

He said the remains were taken to the animal shelter to be cremated, because they could not wait or there would be the risk of disease.

ISP Sgt. Jerry Goodin would not say how long the human bodies had been at the funeral home or in what condition they were found. He said families of both people were notified of the situation, but everything else remains under investigation.

Goodin said a concerned pet owner contacted them Wednesday and said he or she had left a dog at R.D. Pyke Funeral Home for cremation Monday and they were told the alleged ashes of the pet were ready to be picked up and paid for.

Goodin said investigators knew this was false after verifying that dog?s remains had been removed from the funeral home Tuesday. He said the family was provided with something other than their pet?s cremated remains, so the Pykes were arrested.

RESIDENT REACTION

Goodin said he has received numerous calls from people wanting to know if the ashes they received for their pets or loved ones are really theirs.

?The best answer I can tell you is that we don?t know that,? Goodin said.

He said the only people that know the answer are those who worked at the crematorium. Goodin said he has been told it is rare that DNA tests can determine whether ashes are human, animals or anything else because of the extreme heat used during the cremation process.

Kirby Sullivan, of New Albany, is one of those concerned people. She said she adopts animals and had a cat and beagle dog euthanized within the last two years. She said Pyke cremated both animals and sent her a tear-jerking poem and can of ashes.

?For all we know now, [the ashes] are from his fireplace at home,? she said. ?I am livid, and I want to know what I can do for recourse. My animals were humanely put to sleep due to age and illness, and this organization inhumanely desecrated them, totally devastating my family.?

Another issue is whether or not human and animal remains may have been cremated in the same chamber, something authorities are investigating.

?You cannot cremate human remains and animal remains in the same retort [or chamber],? Clark County Coroner Edwin ?Huck? Coots said.

R.D. Pyke Funeral Home has two retorts, Harvey said, so it is possible they were never mixed.

ISP is asking for people to trust them in this investigation, saying they will notify anyone personally if they find out their loved one?s or pet?s remains were mishandled.

?We understand there is a lot of frustration on the part of the victims, a lot of pain,? Goodin said.

WHAT?S NEXT

Authorities continue to investigate, and it appears new charges against Rick Pyke are likely, although none have been filed.

?I have filed a motion to revoke his bond on all his pending counts, so he?s currently being held without bond in the anticipation that additional charges will be filed early next week? said Clark County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Jeremy Mull.

At a hearing Thursday, Senior Judge Steven Fleece ordered Rick Pyke be held without bond pending the bond revocation hearing, which may occur Monday.

He has been charged in Clark and Floyd counties with 15 counts of fraud and 14 counts of felony theft for allegedly cashing in insurance policies for people who are still alive and selling preneed funeral services, but not putting the money into escrow or trust accounts as required by law. There also have been allegations he has sold burial plots and not turned the money over to the cemeteries.

He also has been charged in Kentucky for allegedly writing a bad check.

Niles Driskell, an attorney who has represented Rick Pyke on his fraud charges, said he has not yet been asked to represent him on his new charges and therefore declined to comment.

Rick Pyke?s funeral director?s license has been suspended since after he was charged, but the funeral home is still licensed. Another licensed funeral director was registered as manager of Pyke Funeral Home from April 5 to April 30, but there has been no licensed funeral director there since then.

The crematorium has never been licensed or registered with the IPLA as is required, Harvey said.

Source: News and Tribune

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