Two arrested after funeral home van with cadaver inside stolen: ‘Please just give us the body back’

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FESTUS, MO – Two suspects have reportedly been arrested for allegedly stealing a St. Louis area funeral home van that was stolen while it was parked outside of a gas station on February 11th.

Officials say that when the van was stolen, there was the body of a deceased individual inside of it.

Luckily, both the van and the body that was inside of it have since been recovered.

Here are the details of this bizarre motor vehicle theft.

It was just before 10:30 a.m. on February 11th, when police say that a man and a woman had stolen a William C. Harris funeral home van that was left running outside of a QuikTrip gas station within the St. Louis area.

The driver of the funeral home van reportedly expressed remorse for the carelessness of leaving the vehicle running, which afforded the opportunity for it to be stolen.

At the time, police had released a photo on Twitter of the two suspects wanted in connection with the theft of the vehicle.

Prior to the two suspects being arrested a day later, William C. Harris Jr. expressed greater concerns over the body inside of the van, rather than the van itself, stating:

“I’m just asking them, they can have the van, just return the loved one. I need to have closure for the family.”

Police initially believed that the suspects may have been in the area of Godfrey, Illinois – but the rationale for those suspicions were never shared.

However, the two suspects were said to have been located and arrested within Festus, which is located roughly 34 miles south of St. Louis.

At approximately 10:00 a.m. on February 12th, police had arrested the suspects and later shared the good news of the recovery online, saying:

“The vehicle has been recovered and two individuals taken into custody. Most importantly, the body being conveyed in the back of the vehicle has also been recovered. THANK YOU for the re-tweets, amplifying this to your audiences was a great help.”

The suspects taken into custody have yet to be identified by officials, nor have any official charges been announced as of this writing.

Please follow Law Enforcement Today as we continue to gather updates on this developing case.

St. Louis has been the host of some strange cases and occurrences as of late, such as with the recent incident that took place at the City Justice Center earlier in February. 

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There was reportedly a jail-riot that hosted the likes of destroyed windows and fires from one of the units inside of the detention center. 

Here’s that previous report. 

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ST. LOUIS, MO — On Saturday February 6th, inmates at the City Justice Center in downtown St. Louis started a riot, lighting fires and smashing windows around 2:30 a.m. 

The chaos, which involved inmates on the fourth floor, allegedly began following an altercation between an inmate and a guard. The guard was then jumped by other inmates, authorities reported. 

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, law enforcement officers used tear gas to regain control and a spokesman for the mayor said all the inmates were “back in custody” shortly before 10 a.m.

The director of the city’s Department of Public Safety, Jimmie Edwards, told reporters that the corrections officer involved in the initial incident was injured and taken to the hospital, but is believed to be doing well.

No inmates were injured in the event, and thankfully no other officers were injured either. 

According to Edwards, the inmates were able to get out of their cells due to an issue with the locks in the facility. Edwards claims he has been working on fixing this issue since December. 

Jacob Long, a spokesman for Mayor Lyda Krewson said that following the initial altercation between the officer and the inmate, it is reported that about 115 detainees on the fourth floor of the jail set fires, flooded floors and clogged toilets.

Long went on to say that after authorities regained control of the situation, about 65 inmates were to be transferred to the Medium Security Institution, also known as the Workhouse.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that inmates were seen gathered at the shattered windows of an upper floor of the jail around 6:30 a.m. They broke adjacent windows and threw chairs and other debris to the sidewalk below on Tucker Boulevard.

Pictures and video show flames just inside the windows, as inmates lit things on fire and threw them to the sidewalk below. Firefighters and emergency vehicles responded quickly, and were on scene shortly before 7 a.m. Long stated that by 10 a.m., cleanup and repair work had begun.

Dozens of people gathered to watch from the other side of Tucker and at least one live video of the disturbance was posted to Facebook. Allegedly family members of the inmates were among the bystanders, cheering on their loved ones. 

Long had called the situation a “very dangerous disturbance” and said Krewson and Edwards were at the scene.

The jail houses approximately 633 inmates, however the uprising only involved the fourth floor.

Edwards stated that there are four units on each floor. On the fourth floor, only one unit will be used for the time being. The others will be usable again in three to four weeks.

This was not the first, or even the second uprising to take place at the jail in recent months.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that it was at least the third disturbance at the CJC in recent weeks. Another occurred the last week of December and a second just days later. In those cases inmates had expressed concern about unsafe conditions amid the coronavirus pandemic. Currently, there are no known cases of COVID-19 among the inmates.

On Saturday, Edwards said he did not know what prompted the latest incident, saying:

“This time, no reason was given,”

However, social media is reporting that the riot began due to the “inhumane conditions” the prisoners are living in.

Dozens of inmates were transferred to the St. Louis Medium Security Institution following those earlier disruptions.

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