Rockne’s Remains & Ash Apartments | 4M #137

Funeral Industry News Morticians' Monday Morning Mashup May 9, 2024
4M 137

Rockne’s Remains & Ash Apartments | 4M #137

Welcome to the hundred-and-thirty-seventh edition of Morticians’ Monday Morning Mashup, 4M #137, where we’ll serve up bite-sized, easily-digestible nuggets of the deathcare news you need to crush conversations in the week ahead. Bon appetit!

Special delivery

An Arkansas woman pleaded guilty to transporting stolen body parts across state lines and mail fraud last week for selling 24 boxes of stolen body parts to a Pennsylvania man for nearly $11,000. While working for a mortuary services provider in 2021 and 2022, Candace Scott stole human body parts and fetal remains that had been donated and subsequently studied by medical school students. Scott could face up to 20 years imprisonment and fines of $250,000 when she is sentenced.

Cemetery stories

A new exhibit opening this week in New York “posits the institution of the rural cemetery as a social center with a living ecosystem – a place for scenic respite.” Dubbed “Everybody’s Going to be There! The American Rural Cemetery Movement,” the project will feature a “wide variety of fine wildlife art, maps, memorial art, natural animal and geological specimens, mourning jewelry and stationery, and cemetery tourism ephemera of the 19th century.” Several cemeteries and cemetery groups are sponsors of the exhibit, which will be on display through the 2025 season at the Genesee Country Village & Museum’s John L. Wehle Gallery.

Scam alert

A deathcare scam is sweeping the UK, but like most terrible things, it’s probably only a matter of time that it hits the states. A funeral director in Ireland has shared that someone is contacting bereaved families via fake Facebook pages asking for payment to livestream funeral services. According to the director, many families have provided their credit card information, but have not received any services in return.

On the move

Although he died nearly 100 years ago, football legend Knute Rockne is still making news. Last week descendents of the man who is credited with popularizing the forward pass decided to relocate the remains of Rockne and his wife, son, and grandson to a new cemetery — on the grounds of his alma mater and the school where he became a coaching phenom, the University of Notre Dame. According to reports, when Rockne died in a plane crash in 1931, his family chose an off-campus cemetery as his final resting place because they were promised perpetual care — something that, at the time, did not exist in the Notre Dame cemetery, which dates back to 1843. Since then, that cemetery has come under the care of the university, which is carefully and respectfully maintaining the site. While the bodies have been reinterred, the family has not decided whether to transfer the original gravestones to the new location.

Ash units

What does it say about a nation’s economy when it’s cheaper to store cremated remains in their own apartment than in a cemetery? Yep, “ash units” — residential housing units meant to serve as quarters for the living, but are being used to store the cremains of the deceased — are popping up all over China. Apparently, a unit in a “small, remote residential district with fewer households and lower housing prices” is less expensive than a burial plot. One man who chose this option for a family member reported paying about $34,500 USD for a 70-year lease on a living unit in a neighboring district instead of paying $13,800 USD plus management fees for a 20-year lease on a Beijing burial plot. As you might imagine, some apartment residents aren’t thrilled to find out that most of their neighbors are dead. A few have applied for “resolution by the property management company” or have demanded “restoration of the original use and compensation for emotional distress.”

Predators, reportedly

New York’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) has filed a lawsuit against an eight-location funeral home for allegedly “exploiting grieving families through ‘predatory’ practices.” Allegations against R.G. Ortiz Funeral Homes, Inc. include “withholding information about loved ones’ remains, concealing service prices and failing to deliver paid services properly, including presenting remains in unacceptable conditions.” The DCWP has reportedly received 48 complaints since 2019, and families have also reported issues on Yelp and Google reviews.