Tuesday, Jul. 14, 2009
Judge closes SC funeral home that cut corpse legs
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- A South Carolina judge Tuesday revoked the license of a funeral home where a worker cut the legs off a 6-foot-7 body so it would fit in a casket.
Administrative Law Judge Deborah Durden gave her decision immediately after hearing the appeal of Cave Funeral Home and owner Michael Cave.
The ruling may be the end the family business founded in Allendale 49 years ago. Cave's lawyer said his client would wait for the written ruling before deciding whether to appeal and the family is also considering selling the funeral home.
** FILE - In this April 2, 2009 file photo Ann Hines hold an undated photo of her husband former soul and funk guitarist, James Hines in her home in Allendale, S.C. Employees of a funeral home cut the legs of Hines, a 6- foot-7 man, without the family's permission so the corpse would fit in a casket. A South Carolina judge has ordered the closing of the South Carolina funeral home, Tuesday, July 14, 2009. Judge Deborah Durden ruled after a hearing Tuesday that last month's decision by the state Funeral Board to revoke the license of Cave Funeral Home and owner Michael Cave should stand.
- Mary Ann Chastain, File /AP Photo
The state Funeral Board ordered the home shut down last month after Cave admitted his father, Charles Cave, used an electric saw to sever James Hines' legs at the calf because he wouldn't fit in the casket. The elder Cave does not have the license needed to embalm a body, but helped with tasks around the home like dressing and cleaning bodies, his son told the board.
Michael Cave said he should be allowed to keep his license because he wasn't in the room when the legs were cut and had no idea what his father was about do. He also said there were no other blemishes on his 26-year record in the funeral business.
"It was a terrible act," said Cave's attorney, Rep. Jim Harrison, R-Columbia. "But these aren't terrible people."
But Cave never told Hines' family what had happened. He said he didn't want to compound their grief, later admitting that was a mistake. The body was placed in the casket with only the head and torso on view for the funeral service. Family members said they were so distraught they didn't notice anything was wrong.
Rumors about Hines' suspected truncation started spreading through the town of town of 3,700 people about 75 miles southwest of Columbia not long after his death from skin cancer in October 2004. But confirmation came four years later when a fired employee, who was the only other worker in the room with Charles Cave when Hines' legs were cut, told the family what happened.
The state funeral board exhumed Hines' body and found the severed legs still in the casket. A criminal investigation also has been launched. A spokeswoman for prosecutor Duffie Stone didn't immediately return a message Tuesday.
Hines, 60, was an albino black man who had several modest hits in the 1970s as a soul and funk guitarist with J. Hines and the Boys. He became a preacher later in life. His widow, Ann Hines, wasn't at Tuesday's hearing and didn't return a phone message from The Associated Press.
Harrison thinks Michael Cave could eventually go before the board and ask to be reinstated. In the meantime, the family is trying to figure out if it can complete services for a few bodies left in the home and what it should do with dozens of prepaid funeral plans, Harrison said.
Harrison said he felt the board acted especially harshly. He could find only one other time the board took away someone's license.
But Christa Bell, a lawyer for the agency that oversees the funeral board, said state law gives members discretion to remove someone's license for any reason they see fit.
"If they cannot take the action they took in this case," Bell said, "when can they take it?"
June 2021 May 2021 April 2021 March 2021 February 2021 January 2021 December 2020 November 2020 October 2020 September 2020 August 2020 July 2020 June 2020 May 2020 April 2020 March 2020 February 2020 January 2020 December 2019 November 2019 October 2019 September 2019 August 2019 July 2019 June 2019 May 2019 April 2019 March 2019 February 2019 January 2019 December 2018 November 2018 October 2018 September 2018 August 2018 July 2018 June 2018 May 2018 April 2018 March 2018 February 2018 January 2018 December 2017 November 2017 October 2017 September 2017 August 2017 July 2017 June 2017 May 2017 April 2017 March 2017 February 2017 January 2017 December 2016 November 2016 October 2016 September 2016 August 2016 July 2016 June 2016 May 2016 April 2016 March 2016 February 2016 January 2016 December 2015 November 2015 October 2015 September 2015 August 2015 July 2015 June 2015 May 2015 April 2015 March 2015 February 2015 January 2015 December 2014 November 2014 October 2014 September 2014 August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 April 2014 March 2014 February 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 October 2013 September 2013 August 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 April 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 November 2012 October 2012 September 2012 August 2012 July 2012 June 2012 May 2012 April 2012 March 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 November 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 July 2011 June 2011 May 2011 April 2011 March 2011 February 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 October 2010 September 2010 August 2010 July 2010 June 2010 May 2010 April 2010 March 2010 February 2010 January 2010 December 2009 November 2009 October 2009 September 2009 August 2009 July 2009 June 2009 May 2009 April 2009 March 2009 February 2009 January 2009 December 2008