Published On: Sat, Feb 2nd, 2013

Benjamin Siar, Pennsylvania funeral home director charged after dead bodies found, all identified

A Pennsylvania funeral home director is charged with multiple counts of theft by deception and abuse of a corpse after investigators say they found decomposing bodies during a search of the business.

Officials in Lancaster County announced the charges Friday against 41-year-old Benjamin Siar, owner of Gundel Funeral Home in Conestoga.

Benjamin Siar

Benjamin Siar

There is a warrant for his arrest and authorities are urging him to surrender.

District Attorney Craig Stedman said several families paid Siar thousands of dollars for cremation services that weren’t provided.

Stedman says police conducted a search at the funeral home Thursday and found four decomposing bodies, including that of a 2-year-old girl police say was beaten to death earlier this year.

Stedman says more charges will be filed as the investigation continues.

Siar, in a telephone interview prior to the press conference, acknowledged a “backlog” of bodies to be cremated, but blamed the Lancaster County Coroner’s Office for the delays — a claim county coroner Dr. Stephen Diamantoni denied.

“I will fully take responsibility for anything I’ve done wrong,” Siar said, but “this is just getting absurd.”

Stedman identified the deceased found in the basement of the funeral home as Rosa E. Kleinhaus, age 76, who died Dec. 20; M. Elizabeth Zug, 97, who died Dec. 26; Ranasia A.R. Knight, 2, who died Jan. 12; and Sandra J. Hotchkiss, 71, who died Jan. 21.


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About the Author

- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at theglobaldispatch@gmail ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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