A family has been protesting outside a funeral home in Toledo, Ohio, after they were told a parttime employee sexually assaulted their loved one's corpse. They want the place shut down.
"I'm having nightmares about it," her mother, Ann Lemprecht, told WTVG. "I can't imagine someone touching my daughter."
Brenda Shular-Cameron (pictured), a 51-year-old Chrysler employee, who loved horseback riding, camping and anything outdoors, died of multiple organ failure at a hospice in Northwest Ohio earlier this month, reports The Toledo Blade. She was taken to the H.H. Birkenkamp Funeral Home, which has been caring for the deceased for over 150 years.
Soon after, the funeral home manager, Susan Birkencamp, met with Shular-Cameron's two children, Marc Nail and Amber Thebeau-Tunison. She told them their mother's body had been "mistreated," Nail told The Blade, and that another employee had witnessed his coworker Lawrence Clement "fondling" the corpse. If they didn't go to the police, and thus make the incident public record, Birkencamp allegedly said, she would dismiss the $11,000 cost of the funeral services.
Lisa Marshall, a spokeswoman for the funeral home, disagreed with that description of events and said that if the business was interested in covering up the story, it wouldn't have even told the family about the alleged abuse. Marshall wouldn't tell The Blade whether 57-year-old Clement, who is employed part-time and is not a licensed funeral director or embalmer, had regular contact with corpses at the facility.
The funeral home fired Clement, and contacted the Ohio Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors, which oversees the state's funeral homes. A police investigation followed.
Clement, who does not appear to have a criminal past, soon gave himself up to authorities, and was arraigned on the federal charge of abusing a corpse. He paid his $50,000 bond, and is now waiting for a grand jury. He should be indicted early this week.
"We can't even bury her now," her mother, Anne Lamprecht, told The Blade. "We can't make funeral arrangements. We don't know if the police will hold her body. She didn't deserve this. None of the family deserved this."
But Shular-Cameron was buried, a week later than planned, at a different Toledo funeral home.
This isn't the first time these charges have besmirched the name of the H.H. Birkenkamp Funeral Home. Twenty-four years ago, two former employees were found guilty of gross abuse of a corpse. One was sentenced to a year in prison, and the other was given limited immunity as part of a plea bargain.
"I want Birkencamp out of business," Ann told WTVG. "This has happened before, and it continues to happen, unless people do something about it. We have to inform the public so that the public knows what's going on."
If the Ohio Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors find the charges to be valid, they could revoke the license of the home or its director. They can't discipline Clement himself, because he's unlicensed. But the courts can.
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