A suburban funeral director in Illinois concocted an elaborate plan to illegally hide an error that sent two sets of cremated human remains to the wrong families, even going so far as to secretly dig up a buried urn of ashes.
Marcee Dane, 32, also tried to cover the mix-up by obtaining the cremated remains of a third person, then telling a grieving family the ashes actually were from their deceased relative, Lake County prosecutors said Thursday.
Dane was sentenced to 30 days in jail Thursday after pleading guilty to felony charges of desecrating human remains. She also was ordered to serve 150 days of home confinement, spend 30 months on probation and was fined $10,000.
As part of her plea deal, Dane also is barred from ever working again in the funeral industry, authorities said.
The mix-up began in May 2010 when Burnett-Dane Funeral Home in Libertyville inadvertently switched the cremated remains of two unrelated people. Dane took unlawful steps to hide the error, authorities said.
When one family became suspicious that the ashes they were given weren't from their deceased relative, Dane obtained the cremated remains of an unidentified person from a suburban crematory, prosecutors said. Dane later mailed those ashes to the grieving family, assuring them they were the remains from their deceased family member, authorities said.
When Dane learned investigators were probing the mix-up, she traveled to a Des Plaines cemetery and under the guise of planting flowers at a gravesite, secretly dug up the urn belonging one of the relatives of the families involved, prosecutor Christen Bishop said.
She then removed an identification tag on the urn in an attempt to obscure whose remains were buried at the site, Bishop said.