Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
Search of funeral home is complete
Investigators hope financial records will add to case BY JENNIFER TODD, Staff Writer
With the search of the Gundel Funeral Home property complete, officials now will begin the arduous task of sifting through the financial records of the business.
The files were among items seized in a search of the funeral home last week during which four decomposing bodies -- remains that were to have been cremated -- were discovered in the facility's basement in Conestoga.
"Going through the records -- it'll take time," Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman said Sunday. "Obviously, we want to be thorough."
Gundel owner Benjamin M. Siar Jr. remained in Lancaster County Prison on Sunday in lieu of $250,000 bail. He is charged with four counts each of abuse of a corpse and theft by deception.
Authorities said he was paid more than $13,000 by the four families for funeral and cremation services.
Stedman said additional phone calls were received Friday from people who had complaints about the funeral home.
"And I assume there will be more," he said.
Stedman also said Sunday that the search of the funeral home property at 3225 Main St. in Conestoga had been completed.
"We're done with the search warrant. We got everything we were interested in," he said. "We didn't find anything else. No more bodies."
Found in the basement of the funeral home last week were the bodies of Rosa E. Kleinhaus, age 76, who died Dec. 20; M. Elizabeth Zug, 97, who died Dec. 26; Ranasia Knight, 2, who died Jan. 12; and Sandra J. Hotchkiss, 71, who died Jan. 21.
All of the remains were taken to the Lancaster County Forensic Center in East Hempfield Township.
Dr. Stephen Diamantoni, county coroner, said a number of area funeral homes have offered their services free of charge to the families.