Rockford man I.D.’d; found in Chicago after funeral van theft

The Brown family says they plan to file a lawsuit after a funeral van carrying their loved one’s body was stolen and abandoned in Chicago
Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 1:13 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 24, 2023 at 6:01 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - A Rockford man has been identified after his body was found Monday in a south Chicago neighborhood.

Curtis Brown, 47, died Thursday, Jan. 19 of natural causes. Authorities say his body was released Friday, Jan. 20 from a local hospital into the care of Collins & Stone Funeral Home in Rockford.

Reports say while in the care of the funeral home, Brown’s body was left inside a van reported stolen Sunday by the business. The van was found Sunday, and Brown’s body the following day. Despite this, members of Brown’s family said they weren’t notified that their loved one’s body was even missing until Monday night, the same night police found his body in a South Chicago neighborhood.

“My question is, why did it take them until Monday to inform us what was going on,” said Brown’s brother, Ed. “It doesn’t make sense to us. They make me feel like they neglected him in some type of way.”

Rockford Police Chief Carla Redd confirmed Tuesday that the vehicle was left unlocked and running with Brown’s body inside before the theft. The Brown family expresses anger at the funeral home for allowing this to happen.

“My sister is looking to sue,” said Brown’s Aunt, Sharon Pearson. “She was at peace with his passing, but for his body to get stolen, now it’s an outrage.”

23 News reached out to Collins & Stone Funeral Home Tuesday, but they didn’t get back to us. Authorities say arrangements are being made for Brown’s body to be released to family in Mississippi for funeral services.

Redd shared the news update Tuesday during a conference on Rockford’s violent crime statistics.

“In 25 years...this is the first time we’ve ever heard of anything like this,” said Redd. “My heart goes out to the family, as I know that they were recently notified of what had transpired. I hope we never have to see anything like this again.”

An investigation into the incident is open and active, and a suspect wanted in connection with the theft is still at large. Anyone with information on the incident can call 815-966-2900 or leave an anonymous tip with Rockford Area Crime Stoppers at 815-963-7867.