Police Arrest Embalmer For Swiping Gold Teeth From Remains

When you hand over the body of a loved one to a funeral parlor, you trust that the workers won’t scour the remains for valuables to make a quick buck. But things apparently didn’t work out that way in a Denver-area funeral home, where a freelance embalmer was indicted for swiping gold teeth from remains and pawning them.

The Longmont Times-Call reports multiple pawn brokers thought it was “creepy” and “weird” that the same dude was showing up again and again with gold crowns to pawn, so they tipped off the authorities. The man, who told pawn shops that he was selling the teeth because they’d normally just be thrown away — and that the money would benefit “children in need” — faces accusations including eight counts of providing false information to a pawn broker. The suspect’s wife says her teeth-hocking husband actually used the proceeds to help pay the bills.

For what it’s worth, the man says he never removed the teeth directly from a body. Authorities said funeral companies should recycle or trash such items. Which means that if your deceased loved one has gold teeth and you don’t want them thrown away or recycled, you should let the company know.

Longmont police arrest Brighton man suspected of selling dental gold taken from dead [Longmont Times-Call via Latest Word]


Edit Your Comment

  1. AnonymousCommenter says:

    I’m curious about how one goes about becoming a “Freelance Embalmer”?

  2. Sian says:

    How is this not recycling?

    • sirwired says:

      I was wondering the same thing.

      On the one hand, it IS a tad creepy, on the other hand, I don’t know too many people so sentimentally attached to their dental work that they’d be upset about not being buried with it.

      • Brian Cooks says:

        You paid good money for that shit. Your family should at least get some of it back :D

  3. Cat says:

    Burying someone with anything of value (gold, diamonds, your iPad) is just stupid.

    I’m sure DeBeers loves it when people are buried with their diamonds.

    • Yomiko says:

      I’m not terribly religious, but I do like the Jewish style of burial: simple clothes with no pockets (because you can’t take anythign with you), no embalming, completely biodegradable casket.

  4. mh83 says:

    I don’t really care about what happens to my body when I’m dead. If anything left is usable, sellable, etc., I hope someone makes the best use of it. Organ donation, scientific research, medical school, necrophiliacs… I don’t care. If someone wants it, they can have it. Ideally, the money would go to my family, but I’d rather that someone get a benefit rather than just putting it in the ground.

    So I’d say that this crime is a misdemeanor at worst for not passing the funds on to next of kin.

    • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

      You forgot compost. (After all the usable bits are used, of course.) However, just because we don’t care doesn’t mean it’s OK to treat other people’s bodies that way.

    • TriplerSDMB says:

      “What’s this check from Lynch & Sons for, son?”
      “That’s for dad’s gold crowns, mom; that $13.98 has to be split among all the heirs, don’t forget!”

  5. benminer says:

    From a moral standpoint I don’t really have a problem with this. It’s worthless to the dead person. You are destroying something of value for no reason.

    • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

      Yes, but it belongs to the dead person’s heirs/estate, who have decided to waste it by having it buried, and that’s their right. Just because someone is being wasteful doesn’t mean it’s OK to steal from them.

      • BBBB says:

        When dealing with a funeral home (a while ago) we were asked what we wanted to do with any crowns. We were given them along with info on places to sell them. [this was before the “We Buy Gold” stores.]

      • benminer says:

        The estate believing that the jewels, gold, etc was buried with the dead person is the same thing as it actually having been buried with the dead person, at least from their perspective. As far as the “rights” of the dead go, courts have generally agreed that dead people have no rights. I just don‚Äôt see any moral issue in recovering something of value that is about to be destroyed.

  6. Murph1908 says:

    I do not have, nor do I know anyone with gold crowns. This leads me to a question.

    Are the gold crowns all gold, or is there other materials bound with them. If they are just gold, why bring ‘crowns’ to a pawn shop? Pound them down with a hammer, and sell as ‘gold.’ Less suspicion than bringing in teeth everywhere.

    • Sian says:

      “Gold” crowns are usually 40-50% gold, and also include palladium, silver, copper and/or tin in varying quantities. gold it just too soft to use alone.

      • Murph1908 says:

        Thanks, Sian. Thought that might be the case.

        This leads to the follow-up question, how hard is it to separate the gold from the other materials?

  7. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDave‚Ñ¢ says:

    Should have invested in a blowtorch and a crucible.

  8. Hoss says:

    “Valuables and metals removed from bodies are either supposed to be disposed of or recycled, according to investigators.”

    He stole from the funeral director, not the deceased

  9. crispyduck13 says:

    So apparently he’d been previously throwing these teeth away, just like the law requires for some insane reason. Then one day he thought, hey this shit is worth money, it shouldn’t go in the trash. So he makes money on stuff that family had never requested before, and hadn’t requested now.

    On one hand it’s disgusting in general and disrespectful to the surviving family. On the other he is selling an item that no typical surviving family would want, and which previously ended up in the trash. What he’s doing is at worse unethical, but I don’t think the guy should be going to jail.

    How would you go about “recycling” a gold tooth from a dead body anyway? I’d really like the “authorities” to explain that process. While they’re at it they could explain why on earth they would recommend someone throw awaysomething previously attached to a corpse!!

    • crispyduck13 says:

      You know what, nevermind. Forget everything I wrote.

      “The owners reported he would not have had direct access to cremated remains but would have had access to metals and items sifted from the remains for placement in a recycling container. Aspen Mortuaries recycles the items and uses rebate checks for pro bono work or to donate to charity, police reported. “

      He apparently stole the teeth from the containers to make extra money. A desperate man trying to feed his EIGHT kids. See this is why birth control is important.

      • ChuckECheese says:

        birth control, and good dental care. If these dead people had brushed their teeth and refused to participate in bar fights, this never would have happened.

  10. Invader Zim says:

    Pawn Shop “we just need to see some id in case these 48 gold teeth arent yours”.

  11. MaytagRepairman says:

    ‘ and that the money would benefit “children in need” ‘

    He was thinking to himself — I’m a child of somebody and I am in need.

  12. eezy-peezy says:

    I always wondered what happened to gold teeth…. and if it is gauche to ask for your loved one’s gold when you hand them over to the undertaker.

  13. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    Well, at least they weren’t stripping out tissue and selling it to tissue banks with no regard to how the person died, like Michael Mastromarino and his crew.

  14. evilpete says:

    I recently found a gold bridge from my deceased mom in a folding cabinet, I to creeped out to do anything with it.

  15. u1itn0w2day says:

    I’ve heard alot of dentists never like to offer up old fillings, crowns and caps made from metals like gold. Nor do they ask their patient do they want it. I know someone who worked for a dentist in their lab and asked why don’t the patients ask for them back. He was supposed to sort out the precious metals. He said some piles of old fillings and caps could fetch upwards 700$ plus and this was years ago.

    He wound up working elsewhere.

  16. dragonwerx says:

    I’m a jeweler, and here’s my take on it: gold is gold, no matter if it came out of someone’s mouth, their purse, or their dresser. If you take it and it isn’t yours to sell, that’s theft. In fact, it doesn’t matter if it’s gold, goods, or whatever; theft is wrong.

    That being said, I have a gold crown to repair a broken-down tooth. To be durable enough to handle the pressure of chewing, it has a different alloy than if it were used in jewelry. But 40% pure is still valuable, so I instructed my mom that if I predecease her, she should demand the crown before I’m cremated. I paid good money for that, and I want mom to get some of that value back!

    Families may have a hard time remembering that the recently deceased had gold crowns; why didn’t the funeral home ask them what to do with it? Dang, if the handlers of my body are going to take the gold from my mouth for their gain, are they also going to remove a wedding ring, or a religious medallion, or a military medal? It’s wrong.

    The gold in my mouth is not creepy, but someone taking it for their benefit rather than my family’s benefit IS creepy.

    You can bet if I ever have the gold crown replaced, I’m going to demand it back from the dentist!

    • teamplur says:

      Most military medals are pretty cheap materials. They are ‘anodized’ with a cheap non-gold ‘gold-plating’ and then charge us $25-$50 to buy replacements. Oh and the anodizing scratches and chips quite easily so you gotta replace them every so often -_-

  17. buzz86us says:

    Why doesn’t that freelance embalmer just save all the gold crowns and eventually go into business with a freelance smelter wouldn’t that be less suspicious and harder to track?