By Calvin Palmer
A South Carolina funeral home that sawed the legs of a 6ft 7ins body so that it would fit in a casket may go out of business after a judge revoked its license.
Administrative Law Judge Deborah Durden gave her decision immediately after hearing the appeal of Cave Funeral Home and owner Michael Cave.
The ruling may be the end the family business founded in Allendale 49 years ago. Cave’s lawyer, Rep Jim Harrison, R-Columbia, said his client would wait for the written ruling before deciding whether to appeal and the family is also considering selling the funeral home.
The state Funeral Board ordered the home be closed last month after Cave admitted his father, Charles Cave, used an electric saw to sever James Hines’ legs at the calf because he would not fit in the casket.
Michael Cave argued he should be allowed to retain his license because he was not present when the legs were cut and had no idea what his father was about to do.
But Cave never told the Hines family what had happened. He said he did not wish to add to their grief, later admitting that was a mistake.
Rumors about what had happened to Hines’ legs began to circulate after his death in 2004 but were not confirmed until four years later when a fired employee, who was the only other worker in the room with Charles Cave when Hines’ legs were cut, told the family what happened.
The state funeral board exhumed Hines’ body and found the severed legs still in the casket. A criminal investigation also has been launched.
Harrison thinks Michael Cave could eventually ask to be reinstated and feels the board has acted harshly.
But Christa Bell, a lawyer for the agency that oversees the funeral board, said state law gives members discretion to remove someone’s license for any reason they see fit.
“If they cannot take the action they took in this case,” Bell said, “when can they take it?”
Hines, 60, was an albino black man who had several modest hits in the 1970s as a soul and funk guitarist with J. Hines and the Boys. He became a preacher later in life.
[Based on a report by the Associated Press.]