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: