POCATELLO — Numerous families are still waiting for answers after a former funeral director’s hearing was rescheduled Monday.
Lance Robert Peck, 47, was not present in court when Magistrate Judge Aaron Thompson ordered a second 90-day continuance for a pre-trial conference. Peck, who is charged with 63 misdemeanors involving his conduct as a mortician, is now scheduled to appear in court on March 13.
A search warrant was executed at Downard Funeral Home on Sept. 3, 2021, following reports of a foul stench coming from the building and decomposing bodies visible inside.
While searching the building, investigators found bodies in varying states of decomposition. It was also discovered that bodies purportedly provided to Idaho State University’s cadaver program were never provided.
Peck, the director of the funeral home, was arrested and charged with 60 counts of unprofessional conduct by a mortician and three counts of petty theft on Aug. 30.
Bannock County Prosecutor Stephen Herzog told EastIdahoNews.com misdemeanor charges were filed due to the statute of limitations. Perceived delays, he said, were due to the extensive investigation that went into the filings — which amounted to more than 4,500 pages of documents.
A 90-day continuance was requested by Peck’s attorney, Richard Block, and granted by Thompson in September. At that time, Herzog said that additional felony charges could be coming in the near future.
Following Monday’s hearing, Herzog called it “a possibility” that felony charges could be filed by March.
Among those in attendance Monday was Brenda Choate, whose twin sister was one of 12 unidentified bodies discovered during a search of the funeral home. Choate says she was shown a photo of the body believed to be her sister’s and identified it by a gown her sister was wearing when her body was taken to Downard.
A DNA test later confirmed it was her body.
Choate is attempting to collect testimonies from those affected and use them to challenge the state legislature.
“I want to get as many personal stories together as I can and attach them to a petition to the state legislature, to either change the law entirely or put teeth in it so nothing like this ever happens again,” she said.
Anyone directly impacted can email Choate at BrChoate@earthlink.net.