P.I. looking into possible nude photos of bodies at South Bend funeral home
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - A private investigator (P.I.) in South Bend held a press conference Friday to ask for the public's help with his investigation into photos allegedly taken of nude deceased bodies at a South Bend funeral home. The P.I. was former Metro Homicide Unit Commander Tim Corbett who said he was made aware of the incident when someone showed one of his colleagues the photos who then brought it to him. Corbett said he was "disgusted" by this "immoral and unethical" behavior.
"That's your grandma," Corbett said. "That's somebody's sister. That's somebody's mother that these photos have been taken of, and it's being used as a calling card, a punchline at a party."
Corbett said he knew the identity of the alleged photographer as well as the funeral home where the photos were reportedly taken, but he said he did not want to publicly release that information until after he had completed his investigation. He said he did not know if his investigation would lead to criminal proceedings against either the photographer or the funeral home in question.
Stan Wruble, a criminal defense attorney in St. Joseph County, said based on his research, criminal proceedings were not likely.
"So, Indiana does have a law against abuse of a corpse is what they call it," Wruble said. "If certain things that I wouldn't want to mention on the air happen to a corpse, that is a felony. However, just taking photographs of a corpse is probably not illegal in and of itself."
Wruble said that did not mean the suspect would not face any criminal charges if the allegations were true. Corbett said the suspect allegedly took the photos and claimed to be helping with the autopsy process. If the suspect made that claim, there could be criminal proceedings.
" There could be some criminal charges for trespass if the person was able to get access to the corpse without permission," Wruble said. "It is a crime to impersonate law enforcement, and if the person taking the photographs was claiming to have some kind of governmental, law enforcement-type authority to gain access to the body, that in and of itself could absolutely, possibly be a crime."
Wruble was not acting as the criminal defense attorney for the suspect in this case when he gave his legal opinion. Wruble said he did not know who the suspect was. Corbett said he is not acting as a law enforcement officer in any capacity during his investigation, but said he would release all of his findings to law enforcement once he wraps up his investigation.
Justice for Michiana founder, Vernado Malone, sent a statement to ABC57 where he confirmed the organization took photos of deceased bodies but says it's only done with signed consent from their next-of-kin. Malone stated:
"Justice for Michiana sometimes conducts their own investigation into homicide cases for families they’re working with and with their signed consent, there is nothing illegal about taking photos of a deceased person."