Kansas City, Mo. -- A Kansas City funeral director is facing charges, and now some of the people who felt wronged by him are speaking out. They're saying they hope the charges bring closure, but they know there will be lasting effects for many people.
This all started with a phone call to FOX 4 News back in July of 2010. Hadley Cutburth's wife had lost her battle with cancer, and Marts Memorial Service provided an urn with ashes inside for the funeral. But later when Cutburth called to ask about his wife's death certificate, a secretary said she had his wife's ashes. The investigation discovered Mrs. Cutburth was still being cremated at the time of her memorial service. (Cutburth declined to speak to us for this story because of his pending civil lawsuit against Marts.)
FOX 4 investigated and discovered Marts Memorial Service was already on probation for various violations, including not properly refrigerating bodies. Then the state discovered that Marts was selling pre-need contracts without a license to people like Mildred Ireland. She told us last year that she pre-paid $475 for her funeral, but the state discovered Marts bank account was empty
The state revoked Marts funeral directors license and shut down Marts Memorial in March 2011. Right before the doors closed, the Attorney General's office came to collect evidence.
That's when we first spoke to Matt and Morgan Miller, whose father Ken died after a long battle with Parkinson's. They had discovered their father was kept at the funeral home for 12 days before he was cremated, when one or two days is the norm.
"Just the idea, every time we were there signing papers and calling our dad was rotting away in the back room," Morgan told us back in March of 2011. "I think he (Marts) deserves jail time for what he's done."
Now, it appears that could happen. This week, the Attorney General's office filed criminal charges against Ronald Marts for theft, deceptive business practices and selling pre-need contracts without a license. For the theft count alone, Marts would face 15 years in prison.
Today, Matt Miller told FOX 4 the whole experience was painful for him and so many other people, but he's pleased that justice is coming.
"Just brings some closure to everybody here anybody that's involved," he said. "just everyone involved has peace with it and knows justice has been served."
But there's one thing he'd like to hear from marts that he hasn't yet.
"Even just a sincere apology from him, a public apology to everybody, a letter, just something to say he's genuinely sorry," he said. He adds, "I don't think that will happen."
In addition to emotional pain some say all this caused, there's been financial loss. A woman FOX 4 spoke to said she had a pre-need contract with Marts for her mother, and when her mother died in April, she was able to get some money from the state but still had to pay almost $1,500 out of her pocket.
The Attorney General says people who paid for funeral services that were not provided should contact the Attorney General's Consumer Hotline at 1-800-392-8222 or online at ago.mo.gov to file a consumer complaint.
There is one more unfinished chapter to this story. Marts Memorial now has a new owner and when they took over, Reflections Memorial found hundreds of boxes of unclaimed ashes in the basement. They're still trying to return those ashes to the rightful owners. For a list of the names on the boxes, you can click here:
Click here to see a list of names of unclaimed ashes left at Marts Memorial now run by Reflections Memorial.