Anguished relatives want to know what became of their loved ones after the neglected ashes of at least 42 people were found at an Ohio funeral home that was sold at a sheriff's sale.
A state inspector serving a search warrant last week found most of the remains in temporary containers — some of them simple resealable plastic bags — at Robert P. McDermott Memorial Home in Niles, Ohio, NBC station WFMJ of Youngstown reported Wednesday.
"Where's my father's remains? Was he cremated? What happened to him?" asked Scott Robertson of Niles.
Francis Robertson's name is among those on a list of people whose remains were found at the funeral home — even though he's supposed to be in an urn his son was given by the business.
"I can see him right now shaking his head, just like we are now," Scott Robertson said.
Beth Harkins of Niles said she, too, was shocked to discover the name of her late husband, John, on the list. She told WFMJ that she was already troubled by the funeral home's handling of her husband's remains because his wedding ring was never returned after he was cremated.
"I was sick, sad, and it just brought back memories like the day he died," Harkins said.
In an affidavit filed in Trumbull County Court of Common Pleas, state investigators said they were seeking evidence of theft and other possible crimes.
The Ohio Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors revoked the business' license in July, saying owner Robert McDermott had mishandled about $150,000 in funeral expenses for about 50 clients. But the funeral home stayed opened pending an appeal until it was seized and sold to a bank at a sheriff's sale last week.
McDermott told WFMJ that he couldn't comment, on the advice of his attorneys. Court filings in the case say he told the state Funeral Board that he plans to make good on his obligations to customers who trusted him with their money.