Man seeks answers after sister’s remains found at closed funeral home

CRANSTON R.I. (WPRI) — A man who spent more than one decade searching for answers about what happened to his sister’s remains learned that she was one of several bodies discovered improperly stored at a closed funeral home.

Russell Gunn said his family was put through a lot of pain for the past 11 years, on top of the anguish of losing a loved one. Last month, when Gunn heard that the Medical Examiner had seized bodies and remains from Pennine Funeral home on Federal Hill, he told Eyewitness News he had a gut feeling that his sister had to be in there.

Carolyn White, 53, passed away in 2003. Just last week, the health department contacted Gunn and told him the startling discovery.

“She said they had found the ashes in the garage,” said Gunn. “And that a funeral home would take care of everything.”

Gunn said his sister had serious health problems, was on disability, had no insurance, and was in custody of the state before Alfred Pennine cremated her remains. He said there were red flags at her funeral.

“I was suspicious at the church. He was very adamant about taking the ashes back. He said ‘I’ve got to have those back.’ So we all thought at the church that there was nothing in it,” Gunn said.

The Cranston man tried relentlessly to recover his sister’s ashes from Alfred Pennine but could never get in contact with him.

“He said he was very busy. He said he worked for the Medical Examiner’s office…he didn’t have time, he was busy,” he said. “I went up there, rang the bell, nobody answered. That went on for years.”

Gunn told Eyewitness News he doesn’t know for sure how his sister died and he never received a death certificate. He’s hopeful that he can finally receive Carolyn’s ashes and that she will be able to rest in peace.

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