A man accused of stealing jewelry from a corpse was arrested Friday.
David Spurlin, 25, is suspected of stealing a gold necklace from 51-year-old Melvin Luiz's body while transporting it from the Stanislaus County Coroner's Office to Oakdale funeral home. Oakdale Police Sgt. Ben Savage said Spurlin worked for as a driver for a mortuary transport company out of Modesto.
The theft was about a month ago after Luiz's death. Luiz had retired the day before from the dairy industry and then passed away with heart problems.
At the Oakdale funeral home, Luiz' family realized the gold necklace and crucifix he always wore were gone.
"They couldn't find it and I said 'what?'" Luiz's widow Sandy Lewis said. "Searched the whole funeral parlor and tried to find it."
The items weren't lost because almost immediately they turned up at a jewelry store in Turlock where they were sold by a man for $380. Police said the man was Spurlin, who left his name, photo and a fake address with the store.
Spurlin was initially identified as a person of interest in the theft. On Friday, he was arrested at his Los Banos home without incident. Savage said Spurlin confessed to the theft and then was booked into Stanislaus County Jail. He will likely face charges of grand theft and embezzlement.
Luiz's family is thrilled they'll get the jewelry back. They said the whole saga has brought them closer together.
By Tim Daly, firstname.lastname@example.org