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Judge closing funeral home that cut corpse legs

Too Tall Corpse
James and Ann Hines in January 2004, about nine months before he died of skin cancer in Allendale, S.C.AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

A South Carolina judge ordered the closing of a funeral home where a worker cut the legs off a body so it would fit in a casket.

Judge Deborah Durden on Tuesday upheld last month's decision by the state Funeral Board to revoke the license of Cave Funeral Home and owner Michael Cave.

Cave admitted in an administrative court that his Allendale funeral home cut the legs off 6-foot-7 James Hines five years ago and did not tell his family. Cave said he didn't want grieving relatives to suffer more.

Hines' widow, Ann Hines, said finding out what happened was like having her husband die a second time.

"It's just like pulling the scab off an old sore. I was kind of like smoothing things out. But now it's like starting all over again," Ann Hines said in earlier interviews.

A fired funeral home worker notified the family about a year ago, prompting an investigation.

Ann Hines said that she and her family went to the funeral home after her husband's death to make the final arrangements, and she picked out a standard-size casket.

At the funeral, only the top half of the lid was open, showing Hines from the chest up, she said. She said nobody ever suggested a bigger box for her husband — a 300-pound preacher and funk musician.

Later on, she said investigators had told her that his legs had been cut off between the ankle and calf, and his feet had been placed inside the casket.

Under South Carolina law, destroying or desecrating human remains is punishable by one-to-10 years in prison.