Crucifix necklace stolen from dead body, pawned for $380, police say

Oakdale police are searching for the person who stole a gold crucifix necklace from a body that was en route to a funeral home.

The necklace was later sold at a pawn shop for $380, police said.


The necklace belonged to 51-year-old Melvin Luiz, a Stanislaus County man who died in November one day after he retired from the dairy industry, his family told Fox 40.

"Everyone has to work for what they have, like why steal from somebody who's dead?" said his daughter, Melissa Luiz.

Police said that they believe the theft occurred while the body was in transit from the coroner's office to a funeral home. Investigators said they are trying to contact David Spurlin, who has been named as a person of interest in the case, Fox 40 reported.

Luiz family members said a tipster led police to the necklace at a pawn shop in Turlock, where it was sold for $380, according to the television station.

"This was the last thing my dad had on him when he passed away," Melissa Luiz said. "And we're already dealing with enough.  And this is just wrong. ... In every single way, it's wrong. And I think he needs to be held responsible for what he did."

Spurlin was reportedly fired by the Modesto mortuary service handling the transport of Melvin Luiz's body. According to police, his phone was disconnected and his whereabouts were unknown as of Wednesday evening.

Anyone with information on Spurlin's location was encouraged to call Oakdale Police.


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