After Julie and Robert Biro’s mother died in April, the brother and sister wanted to see her body cremated.
So they went to Alternative Cremation, a Colorado Springs funeral home they believed could do a “witness cremation” — which allows family members to watch a loved one’s’ body enter the crematorium.
But not only would Alternative Cremation not do a witness cremation, they also are refusing to give back their mother’s body, the family alleged in a lawsuit this week.
“It is now three months since Defendants took possession of Plaintiffs’ mother’s body and still Defendants have not returned Plaintiffs’ mother’s body and/or remains to Plaintiffs despite Plaintiffs’ repeated requests for their mother’s body or remains,” the complaint, filed Wednesday in El Paso County District Court, alleges.
The Biros also filed a complaint with the Colorado Department of Regulatory Affairs, which oversees funeral homes, an agency spokesperson confirmed. The complaint is not public record since it remains open, said Lee Rasizer, the department spokesman, in an email.
Lenny Griffin, who runs Alternative Cremation, told The Denver Post on Thursday that he didn’t know about any lawsuit, but that “what you’re telling me is not true in any way shape or form.”
“We would appreciate if the family would bring closure to this,” Griffin said, noting state regulators had done the investigation into the “false accusations.”
When asked if he still had Martha Biro’s body, Griffin said “you can read between the lines.”
“This whole thing is preposterous,” he said. “I don’t know what else to say.”
The Biros, in the lawsuit, said they worried about whether Griffin was properly refrigerating their mother. The owner declined to show them photographic evidence of her body, the family said.
When they told Griffin that they wanted to take her body to another business for the witness cremation, Griffin allegedly responded that “nobody does witness cremation anymore.”
Robert and Julie haven’t heard from Griffin since May, they allege in the suit.
“The Plaintiffs are waiting to perform their religious ceremony for their mother but are unable to do so because of Defendants’ negligence,” according to the complaint.
State regulators issued a “letter of admonition” to Griffin and Alternative Cremation in 2017, saying the owner failed to disclose a change in pricing for clients if they used different payment methods.
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