Relieved that mother was found
BY GIL SMART and BERNARD HARRIS, Staff Writers
Pamela Erb said she's glad her mother's remains are finally with someone who will take care of her.
Erb, of Willow Street, is the daughter of Sandra J. Hotchkiss, who died Jan. 21. Hotchkiss was supposed to be cremated shortly after a small, private service was held at Gundel Funeral Home days after she died.
Instead, hers was one of four bodies discovered by investigators Thursday night in the basement of the Conestoga funeral home.
Erb said she's had no contact with Gundel owner Benjamin M. Siar Jr. since that service -- at which he promised her mother's ashes would be delivered by Monday, Jan. 28, at the latest.
"My father and I have called him every day since," she said. "But he's never returned my calls.
"I can't believe he thinks what he did wasn't criminal. You don't treat people like this."
She said she was informed by the county coroner's office Friday that her mother's remains had been identified in the basement of the funeral home.
"I was relieved, " she said.
Also found at the funeral home were the bodies of:
·Ranasia Ronae Alizae Knight. The 2-year-old girl was allegedly beaten to death Jan. 12. Her mother's live-in boyfriend has been charged.
The girl's body was found lying on a table in the basement of the funeral home, prosecutors allege.
As with the others, her family had paid Gundel owner Benjamin Siar Jr. for funeral and cremation services.
On Wednesday, Siar told a reporter he did Ranasia's funeral without charge.
"I bent over backwards for that child," he said. "I gave a free casket to that family."
·Rosa E. (Bouder) Kleinhaus. Mrs. Kleinhaus, 76, died on Dec. 20, at Conestoga View Nursing and Rehabilitation.
Her body was found in a cardboard box in a garage attached to the funeral home's basement.
·M. Elizabeth Zug. Mrs. Zug, 97, died Dec. 26 at the Luther Acres retirement community in Lititz, where she had lived.
Her body was found in a cooling unit inside the garage.
The bodies, all badly decomposed, were taken to Lancaster County Forensic Center.