Family fights shuttered funeral home for ashes and urn of Air Force veteran

A family is seeking answers -- and their loved one's remains -- after the funeral home that cremated him is shuttered and won't disclose where his ashes are.
Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 10:25 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - 79-year-old Billy Lorenz died three months ago. But instead of getting closure, his family has repeatedly gone to Kremer Funeral Home and found it closed.

“No one answers the door, no one answers the phone,” Dan Whited, his stepson said. “No one helps.”

Since Billy passed, his longtime partner, Jan Hawkins, has been living with haunted questions.

“I want to know where he’s at,” Hawkins said. “What did they do with him?”

A contract shows Billy had prepaid Kremer Funeral Home $1,000 for cremation services, and his death certificate confirms, showing Kremer Crematory with a date of Jan. 5. But the family hasn’t received his ashes or urn.

“You pay money for a service you don’t get,” Hawkins said. “That was a body, that was a human.”

Monday, 6 On Your Side found the funeral home had a deadline to pay a past-due MUD bill -- and when we returned today, that yellow warning notice from MUD is no longer on the door -- so someone has been in the building.

It may not have been Travis Sheffield, because he’s been removed as president, per a bankruptcy attorney. Kremer Funeral Home and its corporation Darali are buried in debt, filing for bankruptcy in January.

But this frustrated family hasn’t been notified at all -- all the while trying to find out what happened to their loved one.

“I’ve been out here multiple times and I’ve called 100-plus times,” Whited said. “It’s crickets chirping. It’s putting extra stress on my mom, which at her age she surely can’t handle.”

The family demands Billy’s ashes so they can grant his last wish: an honor guard service at the Omaha National Cemetery, where his late brother is already buried.

“I want to put him out there where he asked to be put so he can rest in peace,” Hawkins said.

Only then will loved ones feel closure -- but their wounded hearts won’t heal until the ashes of Air Force veteran Billy Lorenz land in their final resting place among others who served.

6 On Your Side discovered there are an unknown number of families waiting for cremated remains of loved ones. The bankruptcy attorney says a recovery president has been appointed for Kremer Funeral Home, who should be contacting families. They will be appointed a time to pick up the ashes and urns of loved ones.

We also contacted Omaha National Cemetery, and a representative is ready to assist Lorenz’s family once they have his urn in hand.