Conestoga funeral home operator charged with abusing corpses

A Lancaster County funeral home operator is facing some disturbing charges.

Benjamin M. Siar is accused of abusing four corpses and theft by deception after authorities found four decomposing bodies at the Gundel Funeral Home in Conestoga.

Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman said Siar accepted payment for the cremation and funeral services of each one.

“The families, I imagine, will never be able to forget this. He’s got to answer for this,” Stedman said.

Siar is facing four counts of abuse of a corpse and four counts of theft by deception.

“This is going to get much bigger. Particularly in the financial realm. We hope that’s the end of the bodies, but I can’t say that it is,” Stedman said.

Authorities carried out a search warrant Thursday night and found the bodies inside. One was in a cardboard box, one was in a cooling unit, and the others were just laying out in the open. All passed away between December 20 and January 21.

“All of them in state of decomposition and obviously disturbing circumstances,” Stedman said.

“The family members of these people who passed away put their trust in him, put their trust in the funeral home, that your loved one will be taken care of with honor, dignity, respect. And instead what they’ve received is and what we’ve had to inform them of today are these indignities,” Stedman said.

Siar turned himself in to the district attorney’s office Friday night. He was booked into the Lancaster County Prison on $250,000 bail.