Inspector seizes cremated remains at former Niles funeral home
By Ed Runyan
An inspector with the Ohio Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors executed a search warrant Friday at the Robert P. McDermott Memorial Home on Warren Avenue, seizing the cremated remains of 42 people.
In 34 instances, the remains were in temporary containers. In five instances, the remains were in marble urns. In three instances, the remains were in resealable plastic bags.
A judge in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court authorized a search warrant for the remains to enable the inspector to determine whether the funeral home handled them lawfully.
An affidavit filed with the court said the inspector had seen about 40 sets of cremated remains at the funeral home during an earlier visit, and some of the remains were not readily identifiable because identification materials were absent.
Funeral homes are required to maintain relevant records with the remains until they are properly disposed of or delivered to the family of the deceased, the inspector said in the affidavit. Such records include cremation files, burial permits, cremation authorizations and death certificates.
Further, the affidavit says, it’s been known for some funeral directors in the past to charge for disposition of cremated remains but not properly dispose of them, instead storing them in the funeral home.
A document filed with the court Monday lists the items seized from the funeral home, including the unidentified cremated remains of nine people.
Inspector Eric Anderson says in the affidavit the seizure of various items from the funeral home could uncover evidence of criminal conduct, such as theft.
The Ohio Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors revoked the funeral-director license of Robert P. McDermott and the funeral-home license for his Robert P. McDermott Memorial Home on July 9 after it found that McDermott had misappropriated more than $150,000 in prepaid funeral expenses for more than 50 customers.
McDermott appealed the license revocations in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court. The appeal is pending.
A call to the funeral home Monday, which was answered by an answering service, was not immediately returned Monday afternoon.
The affidavit also notes that the business was sold to a local bank at a sheriff’s sale last Thursday.