Buffalo, NY (WKBW) - There is a cremation controversy surrounding the burial of dozens of bodies stores away for years inside an abandoned, burned down Buffalo funeral home.
That funeral home was set for demolition. The family of one man whose cremains were found inside worries if not for their efforts to recover his remains, dozens of people could have been lost.
Katherine Goodman White tells Eyewitness News "I really felt like my father was lost, they made me feel like he was gone and all I had was a piece of paper."
For two years, Katherine says she has been on a mission, finding the remains of her father, Benny Goodman.
His cremains had been at the United Memorial Funeral Home, which burned down several months after Benny Goodman died.
Since then, Katherine says she has been given the run-around, unable to find the funeral director. She claims the buildings owner said he did not know where the remains were and that she still owed $250.00.
Katherine tells Eyewitness News that she "spoke to Mr. Drake regarding my father and he said there was a remaining bill that needed to be paid."
Withholding cremains until a bill is paid is illegal. It's also something Brian Drake denies.
The cremains were finally found in the building over the weekend, by Katherine's fiance as well as the man planning to demolish the building.
Also in that fireproof room, about 30 other cremains. Funeral experts and the former funeral director say most were probably unclaimed and abandoned. However, that number still does not sit easy with Katherine or her fiance.
Thomas Buono says "I'm a combat veteran and I can tell you I've seen a lot of situations in my life -- it was eery and such an affront."
In recent weeks, Katherine says she was given a piece of paper signed by then funeral director Rinaldo Moss, releasing the remains to her family back in 2010. However, she never received the paperwork.
After the fire, Rinaldo says he gave out his cell phone number in the community, hoping to help people.
He's horrified it took so long for Katherine to find her father, saying "It was quite disturbing to me because this gives our whole industry a black eye."
Katherine says she is looking into a civil suit and plans on contacting the NYS Department of Health.
Drake declined an on-camera interview. He says he had no clue any cremains were inside the building.
Even though Drake tells Eyewitness News he was unable to reach Rinaldo, the former funeral director says just a few weeks ago, he told Drake where any cremains would be if they were inside the building.
However, since those cremains have been found, he plans to take them to a safe place and reach out to family members.