Funeral home: no regrets after cutting off man's legs

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News 12 First at Five, June 3, 2009

ALLENDALE, S.C. -- An Allendale funeral home admits to cutting off a dead man's legs so he could fit in a casket too small for his size. Now the state says its days in business are numbered.

An order is being drafted right now to shut down Cave Funeral Services. It's expected by the end of the week.

The funeral director's license has already been revoked.

Cave Funeral Services is a well-known funeral home in Allendale, South Carolina and now It's about to close up shop all because of what happened to James Hines more than five years ago.

News 12's Lynnsey Gardner speaks with the whistle blower and the accused.

Chopping off a dead man's legs with an electric saw; it's what Charlie Cave admits to doing and he tells News 12 he has no regrets.

"I have nothing to hide. " Charlie Cave answering few questions about why he cut off James Hines legs with an electric saw, an act the funeral home admitted to the State Board of Funeral Service Monday.

Caves, "Nothing but the truth."
Gardner, " Do you have any regrets about anything?"
Caves "Ain't worried about a thing."
Gardner, "Any thing to say to the Hines family?"
(Caves Shrugs)

No words offered to a family who's loved one was mutilated by the business both paid and trusted to care for him.

James Hines died in October 2004, but rumors his legs were chopped off to fit in a casket too small for his 6' 7" frame haunted his family.

"I was in denial a long time." Hines' wife Ruth Ann told News 12 in a previous interview in April.

Ruth Ann Hines and her children sued Caves Funeral Services for one million dollars in 2007 and settled out of court.

Then this spring, SLED exhumed his body.. Ruth Ann says confirming their suspicions.

"It's put me through something," Larry Hartzog says. He watched Charlie Cave cut Hines' legs between his knees and calves and place his limbs in a trash bag that was buried with him in his casket.

"It was on my conscience." He came forward and says he was fired from his job of 25 years. "I'm sorry it happened. The truth will set you free."

A truth his family hopes will finally allow James Hines to rest in peace.

The criminal investigation was turned over to the Solicitors Office in April, still no decision there.

South Carolina fined Caves Funeral Services $500, which was the maximum. Caves was also ordered to pay $1,500 in legal fees.

Michael Caves, son of Charlie Caves, will have his funeral director's license revoked. However, it's not the only license Caves will lose. The State Office of Consumer Affairs is working to revoke Cave's pre-needs license.

An attorney tells News 12 the letter is already drafted, but they can't serve Caves with it until the order from the State Board of Funeral Service is drafted, signed, and delivered. It's expected by the end of the week.

News 12 has found that people who have made pre-arrangements with Cave Funeral Home should be okay. That's because legally, that money should be but in a trust. The Office of Consumer Affairs says it will work with clients to make arrangements with another funeral home of their choice.

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