Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Cremation Mystery Besets Family: 2 Sets of Ashes for 1 Man

UrnThe family of Robert Nero, Sr. has been cherishing an urn they believed contained the patriarch's ashes after he passed away in 2013, placing it on a place of honor on his widow's mantle. They have recently learned that the urn may not contain their loved one's ashes, but instead the cremains of someone else entirely.

On March 25, a West Palm Beach YWCA worker, Scott Manochi, was clearing brush when he found two piles of ashes and two metal identification disks from a crematorium. Police contacted the crematorium, which stated that the ashes belonged to Nero and another person, and that they had handled the bodies for Stevens Brothers Funeral Home. The funeral home sent an employee to collect the ashes, Willie Watts, who also does grounds work for the YWCA. When contacted by a reporter, Watts feigned ignorance about the entire situation.

Miami Dade College mortuary science professor Joseph Finocchiaro said it's unlikely the ashes could have been outdoors for long, as weather conditions would have scattered them. Cremation almost always destroys the DNA of a person, so it would be nearly impossible to determine which ashes are truly Nero's. The answer may lie with the silver disk that accompanied the found pile of ashes. That disk is with the ashes through every step from the crematorium to the mortuary to the family, Finocchiaro says.

See Terry Spencer and Joshua Replogle, Cremation Mystery Besets Family: 2 Sets of Ashes for 1 Man, Fox News, April 16, 2019.


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