November 2021

Page A12 NOVEMBER 2021 FUNERAL HOME & CEMETERY NEWS Se c t i on A www. Funeral Directors Research,Inc. AMRA INSTRUMENT, LLC 623 N. Tower (P.O. Box 359) Centralia, WA 98531 “the shorter the supply line the better off you are” WEB DIRECT GIFT & PRICING TM ® by K N A U E R I N D U S T R I E S aged the retort floor and the door stayed shut. Six bodies were present and were anatomical donations from Idaho State University to be cremated. Lance Peck stated that they were working with other crematories to accomplish this until the retort is fixed. All else was in order. On April 30, 2021, and on June 16, 2021, Lance Peck told DOPL that the retort still awaiting repairs and that other area crematories were helping with their needs. On July 29, 2021, Peck informed DOPL that repairs on his retort would be in August 2021. A complaint came from a family that had donated their family member. They stated they had waited the five years of the donation agreement but never received the cremated remains from Downard as promised. In Au- gust 2021, Idaho State University stopped working with Downard as they had received complaints from families requesting information about their donated family mem- bers that Downard would bring to the University. ISU had no record of these donated decedents. There were ten other cases where intent to donate forms had been com- pleted by families, but after death, these remains had not been received by the University. On August 31, 2021, a DOPL investigator went to Downard Funeral Home and found the building locked. A rear garage door was open, and a foul odor came from the building. Lance Peck was contacted by phone and would be there the next morning. The DOPL investiga- tor also contacted the Bannock County Coroners Office to report the odor. The next day, September 1, the DOPL investigator found a decomposed body in the garage that been there for possibly a month. They began the review of docu- ments of other decedents. On September 2, the investi- gator found several cremation containers, containing de- composing decedents. One decomposing decedent was in a plastic pouch. Lance Peck then told the investigator about the fetuses in their facility. Peck waived his right to a hearing. On September 2, 2021, Lance Peck voluntarily surren- dered his morticians license, the funeral establishment license of Downard Funeral Home and the crematory li- cense for Porneuf Valley Crematory. DOPL ordered that he reimburse the Board $4,946.94 for administrative and investigation costs. “I can’t believe this is happening. I really want this to end, and I just want her back.” —Eva Bode, sister of Charlotte Anne Mygrant Observations “Something has to be done to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else. We’re angry, but we don’t know what to do with this anger.” —Eva Bode, sister of Charlotte Ann Mygrant Eva Bode was not prepared for the phone call she re- ceived from Portneuf Medical Center informing her that her sister had died. Charlotte Ann Mygrant had been an inmate at Pocatel- lo Women’s Correctional Center. She suffered a heart attack and was sent to the Medical Center where she passed. Bode was at a loss to know what funeral home to call, the hospital suggested Downard Funeral Home in Po- catello, Idaho. She spoke to Downard’s owner and director, Lance Peck. They agreed on a simple cremation and the mailing of her cremated remains to Eva Bode. Bode called Downard Funeral Home to find out when she would receive her sister’s urn. Lance Peck never called her back, she called again and spoke to Peck, who was on the road, and he would call her back with the informa- tion. He never did. The police, with a search warrant on a separate com- plaint, had found – in this well-known funeral home, established in 1931 by Byron Downard – twelve decom- posed bodies and over 50 fetuses. One of the decomposing decedents was Charlotte Ann Mygrant. Downard Funeral Home’s website offers this: “Our staff is committed to providing your family with the highest quality care and service in your time of need, and we take pride in our responsibility to lighten your burden as you take the first steps toward healing and recovery.” The decedents at Downard Funeral Home were trans- ferred to Wilks Funeral Homes , with locations in Po- catello and Chubbuck, ID. Mygrant’s cremation was completed through Wilks. The fetuses found were those donated to Idaho State University before the law changed. Idaho State Univer- sity released this statement: “The fetuses recovered last week from Downard Funer- al Home have been positively identified as remains that were donated to Idaho State University for education- al purposes as part of a decades-old biology collection showing fetal development. “During the course of this week’s investigation by the Pocatello Police Department, Idaho State learned for the first time that the fetuses were never cremated by the fu- neral home. By Steven Palmer “In 2016, the Idaho Legislature passed the Idaho Unborn Infants Dignity Act, Idaho Code 39-9306, which generally prohibits public institutions from using unborn infant re- mains or embryonic stem cells for research or study. “…the University reached out to Downard Funeral Home for assistance with cremation and final disposition, as allowed by law. In April 2017, Downard Funeral Home picked up the collection containing 61 fetuses, the major- ity of which were donated to ISU prior to 1981 and did not contain any donations beyond 1998.” The West Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory inves- tigated the documents surrounding the twelve decedents discovered. Eleven were identified and released to the next of kin. One decedent is still unidentified. Some of the cremains held by Downard Funeral Home have been released to their survivors. Some are yet to be identified. Downard Funeral Home was formerly the funeral estab- lishment handling anatomical donations for Idaho State University. The University cancelled their affiliation when families inquired about their donated relatives, and the Uni- versity had no record of the bequest. The University per- formed an audit which caused more concern. They turned their findings over to the Brannock County Prosecutor’s Of- fice, Pocatello Police and the Idaho Division of Occupation- al and Professional Licenses. Idaho’s regulatory board had quite a history with Downard Funeral Home. May 1, 2015: Lance Peck, his Downard Funeral Home and his Porneuf Valley Crematory were cited for 1. Operating a funeral establishment with an expired license. 2. Failure to ensure that a decedent was embalmed and donated to Idaho State University Anatomical Program in accordance with de- cedent’s prearrangement funeral plans. 3. Failure to create and maintain record of disposition of deceased. Fined $2500 and administrative costs of $3800 and probation for six months. July 12, 2016: Consent decree for operating a crematory with an expired license. $2000 fine administrative costs of $2015 and placed on probation for two years. September 5, 2018: Consent decree for 1. Failing to carry out instructions for disposition and 2. Misrepresentation in conduct of mortician services. Respondent’s licenses were suspended for six months with the entire six-month suspen- sion period withheld provided Respondent complied with the terms of the Consent Order. In addition, Respondents were ordered to pay a $2000 fine and investigate costs and attorney fees of $2015 and were placed on probation for two years. On March 24, 2021, a routine inspection by Division of Occupational and Professional Licenses (DOPL) found that the Porneuf Valley Crematory had an explosion that dam- Failure to Deliver Steven Palmer entered funeral service in 1971. He is an honors graduate of the New England Institute of Applied Arts & Sciences. He has been licensed on both coasts, he owned theWestcott Funeral Homes of Cottonwood and Camp Verde, AZ, where he remains active in operations. Steve offers his observations on current funeral service issues. Hemay be reachedbymail at POBox 352, Cottonwood, AZ 86326, by phone at (928)634-9566, by fax at (928)634-5156, by e-mail at steve@westcottfuneralhome.como r throughhiswebsite at or on Facebook. F U N E R A L H O M E & C E M E T E R Y N E W S w w w . N o m i s P u b l i c a t i o n s . c o m Monthly Columns online at Green Burial: Colorado Burial Preserve & Cremation Garden is the First of its Kind in Colorado Emily B. Miller FLORENCE,CO— Colorado Burial Preserve & Cremation Garden in Flor- ence is the first cemetery in the state dedi- cated to conservation. What we now call “green burial” is in fact an ancient and simple rite of laying to rest our dead with- out unnecessary waste, polluting chemi- cals, or greenhouse emissions. As Colo- radans become increasingly conscious of the economic and climate implications of conventional burial and cremation, green burial offers an alternative that is both en- vironmentally friendly and profoundly meaningful for the participants. Instead of the manicured sod and tight rows at a conventional cemetery, Colora- do Burial Preserve is 65 acres of natural prairie-pinyon habitat. After a burial, the soil is amended and seeded with adapted native perennials to help combat invasive weeds. This proactive treatment builds healthy soil and improves the quality of forage and habitat for countless native and migratory birds, animals and pollina- tor insects. Families of the deceased find comfort knowing that the body can re- turn to the ea rth in the natural way, and Continued on page A14