Illinois man arrested for stealing funeral home van with dead body inside

A man wanted for allegedly stealing a funeral home van with a corpse inside and dumping the body in a Chicago alleyway is finally arrested – after two months on the run.

Deon Howard, 23, was taken into custody Sunday in Green Bay, Wisconsin, about 200 miles north of the crime scene.

The Brown County Sheriff’s Office said he was arrested after he got into an altercation with a police officer during a traffic stop where police identified him as a wanted suspect.

Howard is accused of stealing a van from Collins & Stone Funeral Home in Rockford on Jan. 21 that contained the body of 47-year-old Curtis Brown, father of 12.

The next day, the police found the abandoned van, and the next day they spotted Brown’s body thrown naked into an alley in South Chicago, about 100 miles from the funeral home.

Rockford Police Chief Carla Redd said she was appalled by the brazen crime during a January 24 press conference when Brown’s body was returned to his family.

“For the first time in 25 years, we hear about something like this. I hope we never have to see anything like this again,” Redd said.

While Rockford police said they were still investigating how the van was stolen from the funeral home, they noted that the vehicle had been left unlocked and running before Howard allegedly left in it.

Prior to the incident, funeral director Brandi Collins was fined $10,000 for “unprofessional conduct, failure to account for personal property, and aiding and facilitating unlicensed practices.”

She was placed on probation until May 2023, with the Brown family requesting the house be closed due to alleged negligence in the case.

WARNING: Please review these photos of a possible suspect in Saturday’s funeral home theft and contact us if you have any information. You can send anonymous feedback to 847411, enter RPDTIP and your feedback.

— RockfordILPolice (@RockfordPD) January 23, 2023

Collins said in a statement: “We are committed to alleviating the burden on the families of the deceased as they are going through a very difficult time and we are working hard to meet the standards of regulation that apply to the funeral home profession. Our goal is to always provide the quality service our community expects from us.

“We will continue to cooperate with law enforcement agencies and look forward to the triumph of justice. We sympathize and sincerely pray for the family and friends affected by this crime.”

Howard was charged with unlawful possession of a stolen vehicle and ill-treatment of a corpse, and was charged in Wisconsin with obstruction and possession of a weapon. Officials did not say when he would be extradited back to Illinois.

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