Funeral Industry News

Former Funeral Home Owner Faces Criminal Charges

September 3, 2009
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Former Funeral Home Owner Faces Criminal Charges

image Police have charged the former owner of a vacant Gary funeral home with theft and failing to properly dispose of human remains in a timely matter after the decomposing remains of four people were found in the building.

Gary police filed the charges Monday against Darryl Lee Cammack, 43, who previously owned Serenity Gardens Funeral Home. Court documents allege he accepted $1,700 from family members to pay for a funeral and cremation services for Rosa Villarreal, who died in 2006. Police say he failed to cremate the body, which was found in the vacant building in May after a nearby church bought it in a tax sale.

Police said Cammack had not yet been arrested Wednesday.

Cammack said Wednesday that he had no comment on the charges. He has previously said he let another funeral director use the facility after his license was revoked and doesn’t believe the bodies were left from when he ran the funeral home. The state board that regulates funeral homes said it has no record of anyone running Serenity Gardens after Cammack.

Cammack, who operated Serenity Gardens until 2006, had his funeral license revoked that year after clients complained that he forged signatures, failed to deliver death certificates and in one case took more than a year to deliver cremated remains.

The criminal charges against Cammack come after a lawsuit filed against him by Villarreal’s family. The complaint accuses Cammack of fraud, theft of services, breach of contract, and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. It does not seek specific damages.

A probable cause affidavit states that Villarreal’s family paid for cremation and were given ashes two weeks after Villarreal’s funeral. But police say those ashes did not belong to Villarreal, whose body was later identified through dental records and a scarf that was shown in a photo taken by the family at the funeral.

Her body was cremated in June at a funeral home in Schererville.

Lake County Coroner David Pastrick has said the ashes given the Villarreal family in 2006 have been confirmed to be human, but there was no way to determine whose they were. All four bodies that were found at Serenity Gardens have since been cremated, he said.