NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – The former owner of a South Hadley funeral parlor that had its license taken away over allegations that bodies were not properly cared for, pleaded not guilty during a superior court arraignment Wednesday. One day earlier, a Hampshire County grand jury returned 56 indictments against 54 year-old William W. Ryder, on allegations of larceny over $250. An additional five indictments were returned charging him with improper disposal of a human body.
In May of 2014, Ryder Funeral Home‘s license was suspended following a state inspection. According to court documents obtained by 22News, one body was not properly embalmed, while another was found wrapped in blankets and decomposing. Two more bodies were not in a proper refrigeration unit, and a fifth body was found in a garage.
According to Mary Carey, spokesperson for the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office, Ryder also allegedly embezzled $375,180 from a total of 70 customers. Prosecutors say that the customers gave Ryder the money for “pre need” funeral arrangements, but the defendant put the money into his personal bank account.
Ryder family attorney Edward Ryan told 22News, “He was released on his personal recognizance, the District Attorney’s office required no bail, there are conditions of his release to what she’s agreed, and he’s going to be out on personal recognizance.”
Ryder went to the South Hadley Police Department for booking immediately after the Superior Court arraignment.
He’ll have to report to probation once a week, and is subject to alcohol and drug tests.