HENRYVILLE, IN (WAVE) – During an undercover sting operation, authorities in southern Indiana say they found both human and animal remains at a funeral home whose director has had his license suspended by the state. A state agency now says that Richard Pyke did not have a license to perform some of the procedures he was doing.
Indiana State Police detectives said they found two bodies and several animal carcasses in the building behind R.D. Pyke Funeral Home in Henryville, IN.
"They had badly decomposed," said Mike Meyer of the Clark County Health Department. "Insects had started to work on the bodies."
ISP has been investigating the funeral home since January. Sgt. Jerry Goodin said detectives began another investigation on May 10 after a person called them worried about their pet dog which was supposed to be cremated.
According to Goodin, they conducted an undercover sting which led to theft charges against Pyke and his son, Bradley. ISP accused the pair of telling a family their pet dog had been cremated. Detectives indicate the dog had not been.
Goodin said state police have received a number of calls from people worried the ashes they have, human or animal, are not the right ones. Billie Jean Downey said she now questions whether Snickel Fritz's ashes are his. Downey said he was euthanized in 2006 at the Henry County Animal Clinic in Kentucky. She said Snickel Fritz's remains were taken to TenderCare in Henryville, IN to be cremated. TenderCare is located behind R.D. Pyke Funeral Home.
"Now I don't know if it's Snickel Fritz or not," she said.
Downey showed us the can of ashes, a letter of condolence signed by Pyke, and a certificate of cremation given to her by TenderCare. When she heard about the theft charges against Pyke and his son, she decided to call TenderCare.
"I wanted to know if my dog, mom's dog was actually cremated. If it's the one I actually do have. And all she says is she could not tell me nothing. Call back in two weeks when they get out of jail," Downey recalled.
Pyke's friends defended him.
"I don't understand the last charge at all. I don't know why there is even a theft charge," said Leighda Stine, who lives two doors down from R.D. Pyke Funeral Home on South Ferguson Street in Henryville. "Everybody wants to bash him and talk horrible about him and say what a loser he is. What a bad guy he is and he's really not."
Representatives with Indiana's Professional Licensing Board tell us R.D. Pyke Funeral Home never had a license to perform cremations.
Pyke was previously charged with insurance fraud and theft in Clark and Floyd Counties accused of selling pre-burial insurance and cashing it in before the person died.