Families of lost loved ones to get ashes from bankrupt funeral home

Families of loved ones cremated at a bankrupt funeral home in Omaha will be able to get their ashes.
Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 6:11 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Goldie Wright died last November, and over four months, her family says they’ve attempted to get the ashes from Kremer Funeral Home.

“Where is she? Why can’t we bring her home? It’s been long enough,” said her niece, Tracy Leonard.

After three months, the family of Billy Lorenz has the same questions and frustration.

“You pay money for a service you don’t get,” partner Jan Hawkins told 6 On Your Side. “That’s a body. That was a human.”

Kremer Funeral Home’s doors remain locked, but 6 On Your Side received a text from the owner, Travis Sheffield. He said he is out of town on a family medical issue -- but he promises to be in the office on Monday, March 27 from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and stay open with those hours through Friday.

Family members are hopeful those doors will reopen as promised come Monday so they can get the most important valuable -- the remains of their loved ones. But questions remain about death certificates and preneed policies.

Sheffield’s text says he will release any ashes and death certificates. He will also answer questions regarding prepaid funeral arrangements currently on file. Brian Roeder, president of the Nebraska Funeral Directors Association, has answers about prepaid preneed contracts.

“Whatever insurance money was set up through Kremer Funeral Home should be available,” he said. “It’s completely protected. All that money is there. I can’t speak about individual funeral homes, if they’ll honor those same prices.”

Roeder says Kremer customers who have been waiting months for loved ones’ ashes is far from a normal industry practice.

“That is an extreme case,” he said. “It’s usually a couple weeks at most, or even a couple days is what it should be.”

Hopefully Aunt Goldie’s ashes will soon join other family urns. Waiting four months, the Leonards can’t help but wonder.

“Was she cremated? Or was she not cremated? Is she still in limbo?,” relative Jeremy Leonard asked.

But a Kremer representative assured 6 On Your Side all remains that are in the mortuary are ashes and properly documented to be in the correct urns.

“She needs to be put to rest,” Tracy said. “She needs peace.”

So Goldie’s family says, after four months, all that remains is a celebration of her life.

“You can’t really have a party and invite her friends if we don’t have her ashes to be there,” she said.

Since the bankruptcy case has been dismissed, Sheffield is the sole party in charge of Kremer Funeral Home operations. A check of the state’s website says the facility still has a license. The Nebraska DHHS can’t confirm or deny if there’s an investigation.