Family Sues Over Body Left in Funeral Home

Woman died three years ago; was supposed to be cremated

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Rosa Villarreal was one of four decomposed bodies found in May at the funeral home, which closed in 2006.

    The family of a woman whose body was found in a vacant Gary funeral home nearly three years after she supposedly had been cremated has sued the funeral director.

    The family of 50-year-old Rosa Villarreal filed the lawsuit Tuesday in a Lake County court. The complaint accuses former Serenity Gardens owner Darryl Cammack of fraud, theft of services, breach of contract and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. It does not seek specific damages.

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    "It's horrible that somebody would leave somebody's loved ones in there like that." (Published Tuesday, Jul 28, 2009)

    Cammack declined comment when contacted Wednesday.

    Villarreal's was one of four decomposed bodies found in May at the funeral home, which closed in 2006 when Cammack's license was revoked after clients complained that he forged signatures, failed to deliver death certificates and in one case took more than a year to deliver cremated remains.

    Villarreal died Aug. 1, 2006, after a pulmonary embolism while in a hospital in East Chicago, according to a news release from the family's attorney, Daniel Vinovich of Highland.

    "He just closed up his business and forgot about my mom," Marisol Villarreal, the oldest of Rosa Villarreal's five children, told the Post-Tribune of Merrillville. "But now I've got to think about her body, sitting in there for three years, in the winters and the summers."

    Marisol Villarreal did not return a message seeking comment The Associated Press left through her attorney, and a phone number listed under her name was disconnected.

    The suit alleges Cammack charged the family $1,705 for funeral services including cremation and later presented them with a coffee can full of ashes they believed to be Rosa Villarreal's.

    In May, after the former funeral home was bought by a nearby church in a tax sale, the badly decomposed bodies of one man and three women were found.

    The coroner's staff finished identifying the remains June 3. Rosa Villarreal's remains were identified through dental records and a scarf that was shown in a photo taken by the family at the funeral, the release said.

    Her body was cremated in June at a funeral home in Schererville.

    Lake County Coroner David Pastrick said the ashes given the Villarreals in 2006 have been confirmed to be human, but there was no way to determine whose they were. He said he believed the ashes likely came from urns that had been stored by the funeral home's previous owner. Storing ashes pending family wishes is common practice, he said.

    All four bodies that were found at Serenity Gardens have since been cremated, Pastrick said.