Son arrested in theft of dad's body from cemetery

Associated Press
Authorities say a casket containing the body of 93-year-old Clarence Bright was stolen from Gethsemane Cemetery, seen Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013 in Detroit. Police say two men have been arrested, including a 48-year-old reported to be the son of the deceased, on suspicion that they stole a Bright's body and casket from the cemetery on Monday. (AP Photo/Ed White)
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DETROIT (AP) — Police arrested a man Tuesday in the theft of his father's corpse, which was taken from a cemetery before it could be buried and was found in the son's basement.

Clarence Bright's 48-year-old son was arrested with another man when officers found them with an empty casket inside a van at a gas station, Officer George Day said.

Police did not disclose a motive for the theft of the body.

"The details, his mental state — I can't comment on," Stephens said.

Bright's final earthly journey was supposed to end Saturday at Gethsemane Cemetery on Detroit's east side, but soggy ground from recent rain postponed the burial of the 93-year-old.

The casket was placed near a chapel or a mausoleum on cemetery grounds and remained there through Monday morning when it was reported stolen, said Leon Jones, a mortician's assistant at Swanson Funeral Home, which handled Bright's funeral.

"This is a very, very bizarre situation," Jones said.

Acting on a tip that a white van had been seen at the cemetery around the time the body was taken, police spotted one parked at a gas station Tuesday, with the men and the empty casket inside, Day said.

Within an hour, investigators contacted by family located Bright's body a few blocks away in the basement of a bungalow that belongs to the arrested son, Sgt. Eren Stephens said.

"Nothing seems to be wrong with the body," Day told reporters. "Hopefully, the family can now get the body back and give it a proper burial."

Police declined to release the names of Bright's son or the 38-year-old man who was with him. They had not been charged and the theft remained under investigation.

Across the street, resident Terri Gaines, 36, said she didn't have much contact with Bright's son.

"He's so quiet. He just goes in and out. He never had company," Gaines said.

Jones said there was nothing unusual at the weekend funeral.

"People come in, they're grieving," he said. "We just try to comfort people."

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