Human remains found during investigation of Massachusetts funeral director accused of theft

The Associated Press
July 17, 2014 07:59 PM

BOSTON - Investigators looking into an unlicensed Massachusetts funeral director accused of stealing from customers said Thursday they have found human remains in a rented storage unit, a day after finding cremated remains at another storage facility linked to him.

The Suffolk County district attorney said investigators found multiple sets of remains at a public storage facility in Weymouth, south of Boston, on Thursday as part of an investigation of Joseph O'Donnell. Prosecutors said they also seized cremated remains at another storage facility in Somerville, just north of Boston, on Wednesday.

O'Donnell has been held on $10,000 bail after pleading not guilty in April to theft of $12,000 in funeral prepayments from an elderly couple. O'Donnell is due in court on Friday in that case. It's unknown who represents him.

District Attorney Daniel Conley said no foul play is suspected in the deaths and investigators are working with the state medical examiner to identify the remains.

"Our top priority right now is determining the identity of the remains we've discovered," Conley said. "We've seized records and documents that could help us locate those people's families, but this will be a time- and labour-intensive task."

Prosecutors said O'Donnell's license lapsed in 2008, and they are investigating if he continued to charge customers for funeral services.

The theft investigation began after the couple who had made pre-payments with O'Donnell's funeral home found it was out of business and they couldn't get their money when they tried to apply it to a family funeral, prosecutors said.

Authorities said people concerned about a payment to O'Donnell for funeral services may contact the district attorney's office.


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