Nine years later woman discovers cremated remains are not her husband’s

Posted on: 7:20 pm, December 11, 2013, by , updated on: 10:19pm, December 11, 2013

LEAWOOD, Kan. — When a Kansas woman’s husband was cremated nine years ago, it was the first time she’d ever seen a bag of cremated remains. That’s why she didn’t notice anything suspicious until this year, when her 93-year-old father passed away.

“I was shocked,” said Jane Toliver of Leawood, Kan., when she saw her father’s cremated remains.

The remains weighed nine pounds and came in a black box with two name tags. That was a striking difference from the remains Toliver said she was given nine years ago by the same funeral home for her husband, a much larger man than her father.

“Total night and day — no comparison,” Toliver said of her husband’s remains, which fit into a small plastic bag and weighed 1.5 pounds.

So small, that she keeps them stored in a tiny drawer inside an ornamental clock that her husband was given by his employer after 37 years of service.

“I wanted him to be close to me,” Toliver said. But now she wonders whether they really are her husband’s remains. There was no name tag attached to them and they weighed far less than they should, according to a cremation expert who told FOX 4 that adult remains usually weigh between five to 10 pounds.

An upset Toliver has shown her husband’s remains to the general manager of D.W. Newcomer’s Funeral Home in Overland Park, Kan.

“You could tell she was a little appalled when she saw how small they were,” Toliver said.

She said the general manager also searched the remains for an ID tag, but also couldn’t find one.

“Last week I called her and said, `Who’s remains do I have?’ And she said she didn’t know.”

Toliver filed a complaint with the Kansas State Board of Mortuary Arts, but it said there was nothing it could do since the cremation took place in Missouri, where D.W. Newcomer’s also has a funeral home.

Toliver said Newcomers told her it no longer has records of the cremation, which according to a spokesman for the Missouri Department of Insurance, which oversees cremations, only have to be maintained for two years.

Toliver then asked Newcomers to reimburse her for the money she spent cremating her husband, but she said she was told by a Newcomer’s employee that giving her back the money wouldn’t bring her husband back.

“Nothing will bring him back,” Toliver said. “But they should be held accountable. They made a mistake. A big one. It’s not like losing a shirt at cleaners. This is my husband.”

FOX 4 Problem Solvers contacted Newcomers, which declined to comment, but sent us a statement saying it’s working “very closely with the family to resolve this matter to their satisfaction.”

If you have concerns over a cremation or burial contact your state’s funeral board:

Missouri: http://pr.mo.gov/embalmers.asp
Kansas: http://www.kansas.gov/ksbma

4 comments

  • AT says:

    bang up job on reporting. You didn’t even get the name of the funeral home right.

  • BB says:

    A question from an industry professional: Who are the “cremation experts” that are being quoted in this piece? True, cremated human remains on average will weigh 5-8 pounds, but this is, like most scenarios “an average.” There are many factors to consider. The amount of cremated remains a person can expect to receive following a cremation is based on two major factors: bone mass and the type of container the body is cremated in (cardboard, hardwood, particleboard, etc.) One cannot judge the amount of cremated remains simply by the weight of the body. An educated person would ask the following questions: How large was the body, was the body a bone doaner or an amputee, what type of container was each body cremated in, and were there any medical conditions present in the body which would significantly affect post-mortem bone mass, such as osteoporosis? Finally, is it at all possible that nine years ago when the husband passed away, that Mrs.Toliver consented to portioning the cremated remains? In other words, is there another other portion of Mr. Toliver’s cremated remains that have been buried, scattered, or given to someone else? Is it possible that she may have forgotten about this or that another family member has done so without her knowing? The only thing that I find questionable about this is the missing numbered metal disk, which is present as a marking/identification method for all cremated remains; however, this mission metal disk does support the theory that cremated remains have been portioned and the disk has either been removed from this bag or it was never on this bag, but was placed on the other portion. Either way, the big problem is that it has been 9 years, and a lot can happen to cremated remains after they leave the funeral home, much less over a period of 9 years. As for “the bang up job reporting,” I would concur with AT’s response. I know it’s hard to remember funeral professionals until one actually is in need of our services, but if you cannot respect the incredibly hard job we do on a daily basis, then please have courtesy to get the facts straight when you are pretending to have any clue about our business. There is a story here, but it is not the story that is being reported. The story is that one should be educated about all angles of scenario before drawing a conclusion.

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