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Men charged with abuse of corpse for digging up relatives' ashes

A Florida man said he and other relatives did not realize they were breaking the law when they dug up the ashes of his father and brother.
By Frances Burns   |   Aug. 15, 2014 at 9:56 AM
PORTLAND, Maine, Aug. 15 (UPI) -- Three men who moved two relatives' ashes from one cemetery in Maine to another have been charged with abuse of a corpse.

Kevin Lewis of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., told the Portland Press-Herald he and his brother and uncle decided the cremated remains of another brother and his father should rest in the family plot in Limington, Maine. The ashes of Richard Lewis and his son, Richard "Trent" Lewis, had been buried in a plot in Steep Falls Cemetery in Standish, Maine, purchased by the younger man's girlfriend.

The Lewises carried out the move last fall. But they only told the woman recently, and she told police.

"We just thought we had a right. My father's parents are there and it's where everybody else will be buried," Lewis said about moving the ashes to Maple Shade Cemetery.

Lewis said they did not realize what they were doing was illegal. Maine law makes no distinction between cremated remains and bodies.

The family has always gotten along well with his late brother's girlfriend, who had children with him, and he decided she had a right to know about the move, Lewis said. His father's ashes were kept at a family member's house after his death in 2003 until his brother died a few years later, when the family decided to bury them in the same plot.

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