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Guest Found Guilty of Forgery In Case Of Mummified Corpse

February 24, 1989

GALESBURG, Ill. (AP) _ A dentist faces up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine for forging the signature of a man whose mummified corpse was tended for nine years by his wife and children in their home.

Richard G. Kunce, 57, was convicted of forgery by a Knox County jury Thrusday after two hours of deliberation. He was accused of helping forge the name of Carl Stevens of Knoxville on a document granting power of attorney to Stevens’ widow, Carole, in 1984, five years after Stevens’ death at age 39.

Knox County Judge Daniel J. Roberts released Kunce on a $55,000 bond and set no sentencing date. Kunce, who faces up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine, showed no emotion as he heard the verdict.

″We intend to appeal. I am not very happy with the decision of the jury,″ defense attorney John Pepmeyer said as Kunce stood silently nearby. ″I feel he’s anything but a criminal.″

In closing arguments, Pepmeyer contended that Kunce ″was simply trying to help Mrs. Stevens refinance a house″ when he helped forge her husband’s signature.

But prosecutors said Kunce knew Stevens was dead and signed the document with intent to defraud.

The signature was accepted by a bank, which refinanced the Stevens family home in rural Knoxville.

Stevens, a diabetic, died after he joined a holistic group and stopped taking insulin. Authorities say there were no signs of foul play.

Mrs. Stevens, 43, kept her husband’s corpse in the family home from his death May 12, 1979, until authorities discovered it Jan. 29, 1988.

Kunce told the court that he committed no crime and gained nothing when he tried to help Mrs. Stevens keep the home where she and her two children - Cindy, now 18, and Craig, now 16 - had tended the corpse.

Mrs. Stevens, a registered nurse, pleaded guilty last March to forgery and failure to report a death, and was sentenced to 12 days in jail and placed on two years’ probation.

Kunce, who became a live-in guest at the Stevens home in 1986 and described himself as a ″nutritional adviser″ to the family, was acquitted of an additional felony charge of cruelty to the Stevens’ children.

The defendant had been accused of teaching the teen-agers about suicide, black magic and communication with the dead.

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