A judge in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court has granted the Niles Police Department permission to either return or dispose of the approximately 42 sets of cremated remains confiscated from the Robert P. McDermott Memorial Home on Warren Avenue.
Capt. Ken Criswell of the Niles Police Department has attempted to identify the cremated remains and contact next of kin regarding them, an assistant Trumbull County prosecutor said in a document filed with the court.
Atty. Michael Scala, who represents Robert McDermott, former owner of the funeral home, said he does not object to the cremains being released, the filing said.
The filing notes that photographs of the cremated remains are available for any legal purposes that may arise.
“Most of the cremated remains have been claimed, but there are a few that have not been claimed or identified, and no identification can be made,” wrote Diane Barber, the assistant prosecutor.
“With the assistance of the Ohio Board of Embalmers and Funeral Home Directors, arrangements are being made to dispose of the unidentified and unclaimed remains in a dignified manner,” she said.
The cremated remains of 41 people — some not properly identified — were found at the funeral home in late August just after the funeral-home building was sold at a sheriff’s sale. The Niles Police Department took possession of the cremains.
The number was 42 at one time, but one of the containers was empty. In some of the 41 cases, it is believed no loved one claimed the cremated remains.
The department is investigating the funeral home as a criminal matter, including allegations by the Ohio Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors that the funeral home misappropriated more than $150,000 in prepaid funeral expenses for more than 50 customers.