Family devastated over corpse mishandling allegations

Families are devastated after a Lancaster County funeral home operator was charged Friday with mishandling their family members remains. Pamela Erb lost her mother on January 21st and the family held a small funeral service for her. Her family was waiting for her cremated remains but they stopped hearing from funeral director Benjamin Siar.  She called police for help. “I think it’s worse what he did with the remains of people than what he did taking the money,” said Erb. “You trust people in that industry to do well by you, he abused the trust. I hope he gets the stiffest penalty for every charge that he’s been charged with.”

Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman said Siar accepted payment for the cremation services but their bodies were never cremated. Thursday night police searched the funeral home and found four bodies inside. One was in a cardboard box, one was in a cooling unit, and the others were laying out in the open. Some had passed away over a month ago. “All of them in state of decomposition and obviously disturbing circumstances,” Stedman said.

“She wanted us to get on with our lives, and now this happened. We haven’t been able to get on with our lives and we won’t for quite a while,” said Erb.

Benjamin Siar is accused of abusing four corpses and theft by deception after police found four decomposing bodies at the Gundel Funeral Home in Conestoga. He turned himself in to the district attorney’s office Friday night and was booked into the Lancaster County Prison on $250,000 bail.