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Illinois man who allegedly stole funeral home van with corpse inside arrested

The man wanted for allegedly stealing a van from a funeral home with a corpse inside and dumping the body in a Chicago alleyway has finally been arrested — after two months on the lam.

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

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

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

Police found the van abandoned the following day, and the next day, they spotted Brown’s body tossed naked into an alleyway in South Chicago, about 100 miles from the funeral home.

Rockford Police Chief Carla Redd said she was shocked by the brazen crime during a news conference on Jan. 24, when Brown’s body was returned to his family.

“In 25 years, this is the first time we’ve ever heard of anything like this. I hope we never have to see anything like this again,” Redd said.

Deon Howard was arrested for allegedly stealing a van from a Rockford, Illinois funeral home with a corpse inside.
Brown County Sheriff’s Department

Howard allegedly abandoned the van from Collins & Stone Funeral Home a day later.
Howard allegedly abandoned the van from Collins & Stone Funeral Home a day later.
Google Maps

While Rockford police said they are still investigating how the van was stolen from the funeral home, they noted that the vehicle was left unlocked and running before Howard allegedly rode off with it.

Prior to the incident, funeral home director Brandy Collins had received a $10,000 fine for “unprofessional conduct, failure to account for personal property, and aiding and assisting unlicensed practice.”

She was placed on probation through May 2023, with Brown’s family demanding that the home be closed down over its alleged negligence in the case.

Collins said in a statement: “We strive to lessen the burden of bereaved families as they face a very difficult time and we work diligently to comply with standards of regulations that apply to the funeral home profession. Our goal is to always provide quality services that our community has come to expect from us.

“We will continue to partner with law enforcement and look forward to justice being served. Our sympathy and sincere prayers are with the family and friends affected by this crime.”

Howard was charged with unlawful possession of a stolen vehicle and abuse of a corpse, and also faces obstruction and weapons-related charges in Wisconsin. Officials did not say when he would be extradited back to Illinois.

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