Niles funeral home investigation leaves loved ones with question - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Niles funeral home investigation leaves loved ones with questions

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NILES, Ohio - More questions than answers for customers and relatives as the investigation into a Niles funeral home continues.

A search warrant executed Friday at McDermott Funeral Home uncovered not only business records, but the cremated remains of 42 people, some of which stored in temporary containers, urns and plastic bags.

Scott Roberston of Niles tells 21 News he's concerned that the urn he believed held his father's ashes might not actually contain his father's remains.

Robertson says his father was a customer of the funeral home and he was shocked to find his father's name on the list of remains discovered at the funeral home by police.

"Where's my father's remains? Was he cremated? What happened to him?," Roberston questions.

A Niles widow says she's in shock to learn her husband John was on the same list.

Beth Harkins says "I was sick, sad and it just brought back memories like the day he died."

Harkins says John's wedding ring was never returned to her after his cremation. When she questioned McDermott, she alleges he fed her three different stories.

Mourning the loss of her life partner was enough at the time and Harkins says she finally gave up on asking and moved on.

The cremated remains in question are now in the care of Niles police, but so far there's no word on if they can match the remains with identities.

It's likely Robert McDermott will face criminal charges after admitting to the state Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors, that he failed to place the money of 50 customers into pre-planned funeral contracts, monies that would exceed $150,000.

A seller of funeral goods or services is required by the state to deliver the monies received as payment for a pre-need funeral contract to the agent designated to hold those funds, like an insurance policy or receipt, within 30 days of the money being handed over.

McDermott's license to operate his business and director's license was revoked in July and McDermott has since appealed the Board's decision.

The Board described its decision to 21 News as permanent and notes this isn't not the first time McDermott has faced trouble in connection with funding pre-need contracts.

The funeral home was sold to a local bank in a Sheriff's sale last week. Court records state McDermott told the Board he plans to make good on his promises to customers that trusted him with their money.

The Board is assisting the Trumbull County Prosecutor's investigation into McDermott's business practices. Any potential victims or concerned customers are urged to contact Niles police at 330-652-9944 or the Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors at 614-466-4252.

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