Rockford man charged with stealing funeral home van with body of man inside; body ID'd

Collins & Stone funeral home director in Rockford, IL accused of unprofessional conduct, failure to account for personal property

ByABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Thursday, January 26, 2023
Rockford man charged in theft of funeral home van with body inside
Rockford man Deon Howard is charged and wanted for the theft of a Collins & Stone funeral home van with a body inside over the weekend.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Rockford man is charged in the theft of a funeral home van with a body inside over the weekend.

Deon Howard, 23, is charged with Unlawful Possession of a Stolen Vehicle and Abuse of a Corpse, Rockford officials said. He is not currently in police custody, officials said.

If you have any information about Howard's whereabouts, contact the Rockford Police Department.

The Winnebago County Coroner's Office identified the individual whose body was stolen as Curtis Brown, 47, of Rockford. He was pronounced dead last Thursday at a local hospital, the coroner's office said. He died from natural causes.

On Friday, Brown's body was released from the hospital to Collins & Stone funeral home staff, the coroner's office said.

On Saturday, a Collins & Stone funeral home van was reported stolen from the Rockford facility with Brown's body inside.

The van was found Sunday evening around 5:30 p.m. in Chicago in the 1400-block of East 87th Street, near the border of Avalon Park and Calumet Heights. Rockford police said the body that was inside, which officials said was in a bag and not a coffin, was still missing.

Monday afternoon, shortly before 4:30 p.m., the body was found behind a vacant home in the 8200-block of South Manistee in the South Chicago neighborhood. It was not immediately clear if the body was still in its bag.

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The Winnebago County Coroner's Office has taken Brown's body back to Rockford, and his family has been notified of the incident.

The family is now working with an out-of-state funeral home to have Brown returned to family in Mississippi.

Brandy Collins of Collins & Stone funeral home was already on probation for unprofessional conduct and failure to account for personal property prior to the incident.

It is not yet clear how the vehicle was stolen from the funeral home. The funeral home has not immediately responded to requests for comment.

Rockford police asked anyone with information to leave a tip at (815) 966-2900.

Sun-Times Media contributed to this report.

The video in the player above is from an earlier report.

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