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Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Four bodies found in funeral home closed since 2006

Four Bodies Found In Vacant Funeral Home

In the middle of the trash-filled garage, Jeff Wells, Lake County Chief Deputy Coroner, tags a body bag Tuesday that was found in the garage at the former Serenity Gardens Funeral Chapel in Gary.   (Stephanie Dowell/Post-Tribune)

Lake County Deputy Coroners Ryan Parker (left) and Brandon Simpson on Monday remove one of four bodies found abandoned in the former Serenity Gardens Funeral Chapel in Gary. (Stephanie Dowell/Post-Tribune)'s

May 27, 2009
By Lori Caldwell, Post-Tribune staff writer

GARY -- Four bodies in a funeral home isn't unusual.

Four unidentified bodies left behind in a vacant funeral home is "unbelievable.

That's what the Rev. Reginald Burrell thought Sunday when he and deacons from Northlake Church of Christ went to visit their newly purchased building.

"What in the world is a body still doing in this building?" Burrell thought when he saw a body bag on a table inside the former Serenity Gardens Funeral Home, 934 E. 21st Ave.

He notified Lake County Coroner David J. Pastrick, who arrived Tuesday morning with a crew to investigate the scene.

They found four bodies, including one in the bag, one in a corrugated burial box and two in caskets.

Pastrick believes they could have been there since 2006, when the Indiana State Board of Funeral and Cemetery Services revoked the business license for Serenity owner Darryl Cammack.

"They are unidentifiable," Pastrick said of the remains.

Cammack, who lost his funeral home license in Illinois in 2003, had been sanctioned by the Indiana board in 2005 after at least eight customers filed complaints against him.

"That building has been vacant since I started coming over to that church in Gary in 2005," Burrell said.

His church bought the building at a tax sale and intends to renovate it.

"We have lots of plans and goals we want to pursue," Burrell said. The church now is located next door to their proposed new site.

Gary police are working with state agencies in the investigation.

Lake County Commissioner Roosevelt Allen, who was chairman of the state board in 2005, said Cammack could be charged with breaking several laws.

Pastrick said he doesn't know the origin of the bodies, but believes if the deceased were local, he would have been contacted by relatives about a delay in burial.

"I can't even imagine a funeral director doing something like this. This is my field. It's unbelievable," Pastrick said.



Bodies found in closed funeral home
Rev. Reginald Burrell thought that when he and deacons from Northlake Church of Christ went to visit their newly purchased building, the former Serenity Funeral Gardens at 934 E. 21st Ave, Gary, that they'd be alone. They weren't. Four bodies were discovered. Lake County Coroner David Pastrick said the bodies could have been there since 2006. The bodies, which had no identification, were removed by coroner's office personnel Tursday.
Lake County Chief Deputy Coroner Jeff Wells waits before a body is removed from a casket in the garage of the former Serenity Gardens Funeral Chapel in Gary.   (Stephanie Dowell/Post-Tribune

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