ROCKFORD, Ill. (TCD) — Police are searching for a 23-year-old man they believe stole a van from a funeral home with a body still inside of it and then abandoned the vehicle.
According to Rockford Police, the van was reportedly nabbed Saturday, Jan. 21, outside the Collins & Stone Funeral Home. The body of 47-year-old Curtis Brown was reportedly in the cargo area when the car was taken, and Rockford Police learned the van “immediately fled Rockford towards the Chicago area.”
Chicago Police found the van Sunday, Jan. 22, but Brown’s body was nowhere to be found. Officials eventually located Brown on the 8200 block of South Manistee Avenue in Chicago. The Winnebago County Coroner’s Office transported Brown’s body back to Rockford.
Police shared surveillance images of the man they believe took the van, and later identified him as Deon Howard.
Rockford Police said the Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Office authorized charges against Howard for unlawful possession of a stolen vehicle and abuse of a corpse.
According to WGN-TV, Brown, a father of 12, died from a heart attack.
Brown’s mother, Cindy Howard, told WGN, “They found my baby. He was dumped in an alley butt-naked. He had on no clothes.”
His family reportedly did not know about the body being in the stolen van until around the time he was finally recovered in Chicago.
The funeral home director, Brandy Collins, was reportedly recently fined for “unprofessional conduct, failure to account for personal property, and aiding and assisting unlicensed practice.” Howard said Collins won’t answer her calls or text messages.
Brown’s body will reportedly be shipped back to Mississippi.