Legs Cut Off By Funeral Home
Posted by shadmia on July 16, 2009
James Hines was a striking man – A Black Albino man who stood 6ft 7ins tall and weighted 300lbs. He lived in the town of Allendale, South Carolina and was known by almost everyone there.
James Hines,60, died of skin cancer in 2004 and his family picked out a standard-sized casket at Cave Funeral Services in Allendale. His wife, Ann Hines, said her husband’s body was only shown from the chest up at his funeral. And no one suggested a longer casket.
The funeral home is owned by Michael Cave who employed his father, Charles G. Cave to do odd jobs. Charles, who does not have the license needed to embalm a body, would help with tasks around the home like dressing and cleaning bodies. He discovered that the body of James Hines was too long to fit into the casket the family had ordered.
He decided to cut off the legs, between the ankle and the calf, with an electric saw, without consulting with the family. He then placed the severed legs in the casket with the rest of the body. Since the casket was designed to show only the head and the torso, nobody knew that James Hines legs had been sawed off. Besides family members said they were so distraught they didn’t notice anything was wrong.
Rumors about Hines’ suspected truncation started spreading through the town not long after his death 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 authorities were called in and an investigation was started, leading to the state funeral board exhuming Hines’ body.
“It’s just like pulling the scab off an old sore. I was kind of like smoothing things out. But now it’s like starting all over again,” Ann Hines said two days after investigators pulled the casket from the ground, lifted the lid, photographed the contents and returned it to the earth, all without leaving the graveyard.
Under South Carolina law, destroying or desecrating human remains is punishable by one to 10 years in prison. The state Board of Funeral Service voted unanimously to close Cave Funeral Home in Allendale. The board also fined funeral director Michael Cave $500 and ordered him to pay $1,500 for the investigation. Evidence also has been turned over to criminal investigators. Whether Cave can ever reapply for his license will be determined in the final order, said state licensing spokesman Jim Knight.
Michael Cave appealed the decision. He said 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.”
Administrative Law Judge Deborah Durden gave her decision immediately after hearing the appeal and revoked the license of the funeral home. The ruling may be the end the family business founded in Allendale 49 years ago.
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?”