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Trumbull County prosecutors, Niles police and the Ohio Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers met Wednesday behind closed doors to discuss allegations against Niles funeral director Robert McDermott.
McDermott is attempting to get his license reinstated after he allegedly mishandled $150,000 from prepaid funerals.
During the investigation, police also uncovered the cremated remains of 42 customers at the funeral home and families were worried they did not have the correct remains in containers that were given to them by McDermott.
Investigators determined the remains found at the funeral home were left over from the cremation process and families did receive the correct remains. Niles police are working on a system to distribute the ashes to the proper families.
“There should be an ID tag, a metal tag, some kind of a stamp tag and some of them are partial where some of them were probably returned or leftovers so I am pretty confident once they are cross-referenced, I am pretty confident most will be identified,” said Niles Police Capt. Ken Criswell.
Some victims said they will never be 100 percent sure if they received the proper remains.
Prosecutors said they are focusing on charges surrounding the misappropriation of money through the prepaid funeral funds. They said depending on the evidence, the case could go directly before a grand jury after their investigation.
Niles police are asking for anyone who had a prepaid funeral contract with McDermott Funeral Home to contact them.
“Anybody that has a contract from McDermott, an application, what have you, a canceled check, please get in touch with us,” Criswell said. “We need this to see how many victims we have.”
The funeral home is closed and no one answered the door at McDermott’s home.
Meanwhile, police in Weathersfield are investigating a recent incident involving Robert McDermott’s visit to a cemetery.
According to a police report, McDermott and another man were spotted digging a hole at the Kerr Cemetery on Salts Springs Road. The cemetery sexton approached McDermott and asked him what he was doing. McDermott didn’t answer and then left.
The next day, cemetery officials found the hole had been filled with cement for some kind of footer. McDermott was not allowed to do any type of work at the cemetery because of past issues.
McDermott told our news partner the Tribune Chronicle he was putting in a foundation for a grave marker for an infant that died a couple of years ago.