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Tuesday, April 23, 2024 | Back issues
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Horror Story From a Funeral Home

TOLEDO, Ohio (CN) - A funeral home offered a couple a discount to keep them from going to police after an employee molested the corpse of a family member, the couple claim in court.

Tim and Connie Shular sued H.H. Birkenkamp Funeral Home, Alderwoods Funeral Homes, Alderwoods Group LLC, Dignity Memorial Network, Service Corporation International, Susan Birkenkamp, Lawrence Clement and two John Does, in the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas.

The odd tale involves the body of Brenda Shular-Cameron, Tim Shular's sister.

The family claims in the lawsuit that after Brenda's body was taken to the Birkenkamp Funeral Home on March 4, 2012, "defendant Lawrence Clement was observed by funeral home staff molesting and sexually abusing the corpse of the decedent, including but not limited to fondling decedent's breasts and hiking up her legs."

The Shulars claim that on March 5, "despite being fully aware of the offense, defendant Susan Birkenkamp, John Doe 1 and the Funeral Home defendants ... conducted what they characterized as a rape examination of the decedent's corpse and thereafter allowed decedent's remains to be cleaned and embalmed."

The Shulars say they were told about the abuse and subsequent examination a day later, and that "in an attempt to conceal what had occurred, the Funeral Home defendants, including defendant Susan Birkenkamp, offered a discount to plaintiffs and plaintiffs' family in exchange for not notifying law enforcement, contending that they had conducted their own rape investigation, which was a further abuse of the decedent's corpse, and which allegedly cleared defendant Clement from sexual assault of the decedent's corpse."

After delaying visitation and funeral services to find another funeral home, the Shulars say, "media outlets, including national newspapers, websites, and television stations, covered the story, resulting in unwanted attention and embarrassment to plaintiffs and the family."

The Shulars seek punitive damages for gross abuse of a corpse and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

According to the complaint, defendant Clement pled no-contest to a fifth-degree felony charge and is serving time.

The Shulars are represented by James Carnes with Shumaker, Loop and Kendrick in Toledo.

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