This is kinda horrific.
(AP) ALTON, Ill. Police are investigating a family's complaint that a funeral home failed to properly embalm or clothe a late loved one, and instead left his body in a casket under a bloody sheet. The undertaker then allegedly disappeared with the body before releasing it to investigators hours later.
"This is a first for us, as far as I know," Police Chief Chris Sullivan said Tuesday, a day after 58-year-old Lloyd Joseph "Kenny" White's funeral turned troubling in this Mississippi River city about 20 miles northeast of St. Louis.
White's widow, Helen White, told media outlets she bought a suit, shirt and tie for her husband, who died Oct. 11 at a St. Louis County hospital after a long illness. During the funeral, she insisted that the coffin be opened because she reportedly requested an open-casket service. She said a Williams Mortuary worker then opened the casket's lid about an inch and she peered inside.
Helen White "told us she found him dressed only in a bloody sheet," Sullivan said. "The family is very upset."
The widow, who did not return a telephone message Tuesday to The Associated Press, told The Telegraph in Alton that the body "didn't even look like my husband. It looked like they did-up somebody else."
"He was not embalmed, blood was everywhere," Helen White told the newspaper after the funeral at St. James Baptist Church. "They didn't do anything for him."
She said she paid funeral director Roy Williams $750 for his services for her husband, a former Marine awarded two Purple Hearts during the Vietnam War.
Williams insisted "he believed the body was prepared and taken care of correctly," and that he lived up to the contractual arrangements with the family, Sullivan said.
Williams did not return a call left Tuesday with his answering service. He has not been charged in the incident. However, the family's complaints could produce charges of fraud or theft of services, though "that determination has not been made," Sullivan said.
After the funeral, Sullivan said, Williams vanished with the body in a hearse. Police spent hours negotiating with Williams, trying to persuade him to reveal where the body was. No one responded when police knocked on the mortuary's doors.
"We attempted to get (Williams) to come and verify the condition of the deceased," Sullivan said.
Police were in the process of getting a warrant to search the funeral home Monday evening when Williams and other workers at the funeral home agreed to let investigators see the body, which was taken to a coroner's office for inspection, Sullivan said.
Chris Wooldridge, a licensed mortician, inspected the body Monday night and said White was embalmed and only had on a dress shirt, a pair of socks and the bloody sheet.
"Was it up to the standards with the funeral homes and embalmers I deal with? No," Wooldridge said of the body.
He also said the body did not appear to have any cosmetology work done on it, which is routine for an open-casket service.
The body has been taken to Cathy M. Williams and Sons Funeral Home in Godfrey, where Cathy Williams said Tuesday she was to meet with the family to arrange a burial.