By ERIN SANSON
Heinz Funeral Home was established in Carlinville in 1854 and has been a family run funeral home since then. The current owner and owner of Springfield based crematorium, Family Care Cremation, Albert ‘Auggie’ Heinz has found himself involved in an investigation being lead by the Sangamon County Coroner Jim Allmon after a body was left in a local hospital morgue for over a month. Allmon reached out to the family of the deceased who informed him they had been provided with remains from Heinz, which they believed belonged to their mother. Allmon told the family their mother’s remains were still in the morgue and they were in possession of the remains of another Sangamon County resident.
At Allmon’s request, members of the Sangamon County Sheriff’s Department, Macoupin County Coroner, Carlinville Police Department and Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulations met at Heinz Funeral Home Sept. 28. Allmon stated during a Sept. 29 press conference that, “while at the funeral home there were three bodies found in an non-refrigerated setting and in advanced states of decomposition. They remains were not able to be identified at that time,” Allmon took possession of al three bodies and moved them to the Sangamon County for identification. He also stated that numerous families had been given the wrong remains and that at least one body was cremated under a different name.
The investigation is still in preliminary stages as the incident began on Sept. 25. Allmon said they did not know how many families or remains were involved but stated, “Our investigation has discovered numerous incidents that involved situations similar to this that have involved Heinz Funeral Home or Family Care Cremations telling the family their loved ones had been cremated, that were then provided with cremains when, in reality, no cremation ever took place.”
Allmon said he was not aware of a way to identify cremated remains but that cremated remains come with medallions attached that have pin number which correspond with the person cremated. During the conference Allmon said, “As long as the identification of the individual was not switched, prior to the cremation, those medallions should lead us to the right person.”
No names of the deceased individuals or remains involved have been released.
Allmon said during the press conference, “I’ve never experienced anything like this in 20 years. It’s unimaginable what these families are going through.”
Allmon said that there was a lengthy discussion on Thursday with the owner about the concerns he and others had but he gave no further details at the press conference citing the ongoing investigation.
Responding to a question at the press conference about criminal charges, Sangamon County Sheriff Jack Campbell said that it was still early in the investigation and they were “determining what, if any laws were broken.”
The Carlinville Police Department, Macoupin County Coroner’s Office and the Macoupin County State’s Attorney released a statement on Friday saying they had opened an investigation. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Department by phone at 217-854-3221 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to an article by WLDS News posted last Monday, two cases of mishandled remains were reported in Morgan County. The first case was reported in March of this year to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulations. In June, a second family from Morgan County came forward with concerns and another call was made to IDFPR. According to WLDS News, the family from June discovered they were not in possession of their loved ones remains. The Morgan County Coroner’s office can be reached by phone at 217-245-7423 for Morgan County residents with questions or concerns.
No arrests have been made at this time.
There had been no response to a request for comment from Heinz Funeral Home at the time of publication.