Funeral home employee cut legs of corpse to make it fit in casket

By Calvin Palmer

The licenses of a South Carolina funeral home and its director have been revoked after he admitted an employee cut the legs of a 6ft 7in man so his corpse would fit in a casket without obtaining the family’s permission.

The state Board of Funeral Service voted unanimously Monday to close Cave Funeral Home in Allendale. The board also fined funeral director Michael Cave $500 and ordered him to pay $1,500 for the investigation.

Cave said employees never told the family of soul man James Hines that his body might not fit in a standard casket. An unlicensed worker, Charles G. Cave, cut the legs with an electric saw without consulting relatives.

Hines’ widow has said his legs had been cut off between the ankle and calf and put back in the coffin.

Evidence also has been turned over to criminal investigators. Under South Carolina law, destroying or desecrating human remains is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Hines, 60, died in October 2004 of skin cancer, and his family picked out a standard-sized casket at the funeral home. His wife, Ann Hines, said her husband’s body was only shown from the chest up at his funeral. And no one suggested a longer casket.

Ann Hines said rumors about what happened to her husband’s body started spreading soon after he was buried.

The widow threatened to sue Cave Funeral Home and the business agreed to settle out of court as long as she did not tell anyone how much she received. Ann Hines said workers never told her what happened or apologized.

Authorities eventually caught wind of the rumor, leading a funeral service board investigator and county coroner to exhume Hines’ body.

Hines, an albino black man, had several modest hits in the 1970s as a soul and funk guitarist with J. Hines and the Boys.

[Based on a report by the Associated Press.]

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