WHITEHALL, MICH. - Close to a year after serving time for a fraud conviction, former Whitehall-based funeral director Thomas Clock says nobody in the community should be worried their loved ones weren't buried properly.
Clock told the 13 Watchdog team in a wide-ranging sit down interview that aside from the two cases that have been brought to light, he never took shortcuts in placing final burials. Ultimately, detectives feared Clock may have systematically had a process of burying empty urns. He denies it ever happened.
"If I was asked to do something, I did it," Clock said. "Even if it was on my dime and even if the family didn't want to do it the right way as required by the cemetery, it got done right."
Clock's statements to us are the first since he was sentenced to 8 months in jail in July 2016. He formerly ran the now-closed Clock Funeral Home of White Lake based in Whitehall.
Clock says he is responsible for burying an empty urn in the Fruitland Township Cemetery that should have had the ashes of 86-year old Helen Anthony. Clock presented an empty urn to Anthony's family members for burial, weeks before Anthony was cremated. Her body was found frozen in the back of Clock's funeral home van about the same time he was arrested for operating a vehicle while impaired.
He says there are extenuating circumstances that contributed to the delay in Anthony's cremation. but said he was responsible for not providing the service in a timely manner. Clock said he asked for an extension of time to get the cremation done, but was not given that opportunity.
"I was going to make it right regardless of the emotionalism of it," Clock said. "I spent time in jail and I was willing to take the felony on it.
He understood he should have been honest with Anthony's family when she hadn't been cremated. But Clock said he planned to exhume Anthony's empty urn and replace it with her ashes after she was cremated.
Clock denies his involvement in a second empty urn case Muskegon County deputies brought to light involving the death of 5-month old Ryan Zack. Clock was accused of burying an empty urn containing the baby's ashes in the Fruitland Township Cemetery.
Despite accepting criminal responsibility in that case, he says he's doing his own investigation to clear his name.
"I will find some way to fight that," Clock said.
In a bit of twist, Clock confirmed he's running for city council in Whitehall.
"I live in this community and I can give something back," he said. "I'll find out if I am a pariah because they won't elect me."
►Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the WZZM 13 app now.
© 2017 WZZM-TV