Stanislaus County official reassures families about remains

pguerra@modbee.comMay 22, 2013 

  • ABOUT THE REPORTER
    alternate text Patty Guerra
    Title: Breaking news editor
    Coverage areas: Breaking news, business
    Bio: Patty Guerra has been an editor and reporter at The Modesto Bee for 13 years. She has a journalism degree from Fresno State and previously worked at the Turlock Journal and Merced Sun-Star.
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— Of all the concerns authorities have with how Shaun McGuire conducted his funeral home and burial service, misidentifying the remains isn't one of them.

Several families that used McGuire's service voiced concern over the remains they received after several delays in cremating bodies or obtaining death certificates.

Tom Killian, deputy coroner for Stanislaus County, said McGuire did not handle cremations himself and the businesses that did complied with the laws and standards that regulate them.

"There are checks and balances with those businesses, and all of the paperwork was done properly," Killian said. "During our investigation, there was absolutely, positively no indication of the wrong body being cremated or represented as a different person."

Deputies removed 17 bodies from McGuire Cremation and Funeral Service last Friday after several complaints at the state and local levels from families about long delays in getting remains and death certificates for their loved ones. Stanislaus County stopped issuing cremation and burial permits to McGuire for the same reason.

McGuire has not responded to repeated telephone messages and visits to the Seventh Street business. On Wednesday, the phone listed for the funeral home rang unanswered.

The 17 bodies taken from the funeral home, as well as an 18th at the coroner's office that McGuire was supposed to handle, have been cremated, Killian said Wednesday. A Bay Area crematorium in Stockton did the work at no charge to the county or the families.

Investigation into the funeral home continues. Legal actions, if any, could include criminal charges or rescinding McGuire's license.

Concerned clients can call the Stanislaus County coroner's office at (209) 567-4500, or the California Cemetery and Funeral Bureau at (916) 574-7870.

Bee Breaking News Editor Patty Guerra can be reached at pguerra@modbee.com or (209) 578-2343. Follow her on Twitter, @pattyguerra.

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