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Heinz investigation includes exhumations, Senate Bill 2643 introduced to protect remains from misidentification

Enquirer~Democrat Reporter

The investigation in Heinz Funeral Home in Carlinville continues with the Illinois State Police recently joining the case. The investigation now involves over 60 families from across the country and the Sangamon County Coroner’s office is still working to reunite families with their loved ones remains.

Sangamon County Coroner Jim Allmon said “that the process is now involving exhumations in some cases.” Heinz’s license was permanently revoked in October but no criminal charges have been filed yet.

Lawmakers are working to make sure that such an event does not happen again. State Senator Doris Turner (D-Springfield) introduced a bill that would help people track whether they have their loved ones ashes.

“When we lose a loved one, we expect a funeral home to respect the remains of our friends and family,” said Turner. “We are talking about a person who has loved ones and a story of their own. It is vital that we ensure no family has to receive the dreaded call that the remains they received belong to someone else. This has become a nationwide issue that needs to be addressed.”

Turner’s bill, Senate Bill 2643, would require the death care industry in the state as well as state regulators to implement a mandatory unique identification tagging system for all human remains. It also would establish a chain of custody system that tracks the human remains of a deceased individual whose death occurred in the state from death to final disposition, if the final disposition is in Illinois.

Turner’s measure would put procedures and protocols in place that aim to prevent the misidentification and misplacement of dead bodies or human remains, and conduct that results in a method of final disposition that differs from what is stipulated by the deceased individual or the deceased’s next of kin.

“This proposed legislation will help protect our loved and lost. It will help assure the proper identification and treatment of someone after death,” said Allmon. “This will also help prevent the victimization of families who are grieving the loss of someone they love, all while giving the deceased the dignity they deserve.”

Senate Bill 2643 awaits committee assignment in the Senate.