Authorities in California are trying to find family members of more than 100 people whose remains were discovered in a Northern California warehouse connected to an illegal crematorium.
Five of them were identified, and families were contacted and advised of the investigation, officials said.
“Family members indicated that after their calls to Oceanview Cremations’ owner, Robert Smith, went unanswered, they believed their loved ones had been cremated or scattered at sea as requested,” Alameda County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.
Smith didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.
In a petition for an interim suspension order, state officials documented the problems between August 2021 and April 2022 when the state’s Cemetery and Funeral Bureau received numerous complaints about Oceanview and Smith.
Most of the complaints came from family members, alleging that Oceanview held the remains of their loved ones for an excessive amount of time before providing cremation services, the document states.
On April 5, 2022, Oceanview moved without filing a change of location form with the bureau or surrendering its license to operate at its previous facility, the document said.
In interviews with a state bureau representative about the complaints, Smith said he had health and memory problems.
He forgot about the uncremated remains in numerous cases, the document said.
Smith said Oceanview’s main telephone number was disconnected for a time in 2022, and he neglected to return messages from customers seeking updates on the status of their deceased loved ones, the petition said.
Officials say that if you or someone you know entrusted Oceanview Cremations with final arrangements for a loved one between 2013 and 2022 and you are uncertain of their disposition or the whereabouts of their cremated remains, please get in touch with the Alameda County Coroner’s Bureau at 510-382-3000.