Bodies found in funeral home, man bites dog version

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It's not uncommon for a business to be sold with a sizable chunk of inventory included in the sale price. But if you're buying a funeral home, that's probably not what you're looking for.

The Rev. Reginald Burrell and deacons from Northlake Church of Christ in Gary, Ind. purchased a building that had been the home of Serenity Gardens Funeral Home until it was shut down by the state in 2006. When they went to check out the building on Sunday, the found four unidentifiable bodies -- one in a body bag, one in a corrugated burial box, and two in caskets.

Gary police and state authorities are now investigating, and charges could be filed against the funeral home's former operator.

The church that bought the building got quite an unpleasant surprise but many veterans of tax foreclosure auctions -- which is how the building was acquired -- will tell you that nothing, absolutely nothing, should be considered shocking.

Incidentally, if you're ever selling a property that has a history of association with death and destruction, state law may require you to disclose that history to prospective buyers. "Stigmatized property" laws require that certain facts must be disclosed:
  • If there was a murder or suicide in the home, you probably need to let buyers know.
  • If the home was the site of some sort of criminal enterprise that may have left neighbors with a negative opinion of the property and its inhabitants, disclose it.
  • If the departing occupants had debt problems that may lead to harassing phone calls from debt collectors even after they're gone, buyers should know about that.
  • If the home was the site of a famous event -- i.e. used in a movie, celebrity lived there -- that attracts gawkers and reporters, a person considering moving there has a right to know about it.
  • If the house is "haunted," many jurisdictions require that that be disclosed.
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