MODESTO — Lyn DeLano was in Hawaii with her mother in February 2011 when her uncle died at a care home in Roseville.
DeLano, who was in charge of her uncle's finances, called Shaun McGuire, owner of McGuire Cremation and Funeral Service in Modesto.
Though he had only a four-hour window to pick up DeLano's uncle, McGuire made it to Roseville and took care of everything.
"We had no issues at all with him," said DeLano. McGuire even helped DeLano get a refund from the Department of Veterans Affairs for some of the funeral costs. "He was just excellent to deal with."
Paperwork was processed quickly and DeLano was grateful for McGuire's help.
So when another uncle died last August, DeLano recommended McGuire to her cousin. But the cousin's experience was vastly different, and echoed those of other customers of McGuire's in the last 10 months or so.
"He started having issues where he couldn't get in touch with Shaun," DeLano said. "He couldn't get a death certificate, he couldn't get the ashes or a receipt. Shaun was dragging his feet on all this stuff."
Because of the increasing complaints starting earlier this year, the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department and district attorney's office launched an investigation. Friday, deputies removed 17 bodies from the 12th Street building that housed the funeral home.
DeLano was left at a loss to explain the change.
"We are totally mystified as to what happened to Shaun McGuire and his funeral and cremation service."
Several other clients of the funeral home also are disappointed, and many complained to local and state officials when they weren't getting the remains of their loved ones in a timely manner. DeLano said her cousin filed a complaint, but when he finally got the paperwork he needed in January, he withdrew it.
Stanislaus County officials stopped issuing cremation and burial permits to McGuire earlier this month, citing concerns over the delay in cremating remains and processing paperwork.
McGuire has not responded to repeated telephone messages and has not been at his business address.
DeLano is concerned because she gave McGuire information about her mother, planning to use his funeral home in the event of her mother's death.
Monica Vargas, an information officer for the state Department of Consumer Affairs, recommended that anyone with concerns about records or information call the state Cemetery and Funeral Board.
Though many funeral homes accept money to prepay for services, Vargas said McGuire did not report having any of those funds. The funeral home apparently operated with "wish lists" for preplanning, but consumers held onto their own money.
DeLano is left wondering what happened to cause the sudden change.
"This is just kind of befuddling to me," she said. "Something must have happened."
Complaints and concerns can be registered with the Cemetery and Funeral Board at (916) 574-7870.
Breaking News Editor Patty Guerra can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2343. Follow her on Twitter, @pattyguerra.