Arrest made in Tulsa funeral home fire

The Tulsa World reported in an article that you can read here that an arrest was made last Wednesday, July 31, in connection with a fire that destroyed the Dyer Memorial Chapel, then at 1610 East Apache Street in Tulsa, in 2015.  According to the newspaper the suspect was booked into the Tulsa County Jail on charges of first-degree arson, endangering human life during an arson, and second-degree burglary.

The newspaper also reported that two employees of the funeral home were sleeping in a second story living quarters and one of them had to jump from a window to escape the blaze.

The suspect, according to the newspaper, told an investigator “he and another man broke into the funeral home early that morning seeking money and embalming fluid.”

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, “Marijuana or tobacco cigarettes can be dipped in embalming fluid, with or without the addition of phencyclidine (PCP) and allowed to dry, creating what is called ‘fry’.”  And, again according to the newspaper article,  in April 2012 the Journal of American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law Online reported, “people under the influence of fry – also known as ‘water” and ‘wet’ – may be violent and may appear psychotic, with symptoms resembling schizophrenia or delirium.”

The Dyer Funeral Chapel was a complete loss and the company eventually merged with the Butler – Stumpf Funeral Home & Crematory in 2017.

Funeral Director Daily take:  Anecdotally, you hear these type of stories where someone breaks into the prep room to steal chemicals.  However, it is very seldom that I have seen one actually in print and a suspect held on the suspicion of just such a thing.  It makes me think of the liability issues that could arise if someone stole chemicals from your funeral home, began hallucinating, and caused physical or bodily harm to an individual or to other property under the influence of what is purported.

Several years ago we put all of our chemicals under a coded lock system in the prep room for just such a reason.  I know funeral homes that continue to store chemicals in boxes in the garage portion of their buildings.  It just makes common sense to me – when you hear stories like this – to get those chemicals under lock down.

I don’t know if it is just me or it is happening to all of us. . . but there just seems to be so much more to operating a funeral home than there once was.

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