Body of man inside stolen funeral home van identified, suspect still at large

The remains of a man were identified Tuesday after a van holding his body was stolen outside a Rockford funeral home over the weekend.

Curtis Brown, 47, died of natural causes Thursday night at a Winnebago County hospital, according to the medical examiner's office.

After the hospital released Brown's body Friday night, it was transported in a van to Collins & Stone Funeral Home, located at 128 South 5th Street, where it was reported stolen the following day.

Investigators had recovered the van in the 1400 block of East 87th Street in Chicago on Sunday evening, but the man’s body was still missing.

The 47-year-old man’s body was located Monday evening behind a vacant home in the 8200 block of South Manistee Avenue in the South Chicago neighborhood, about 2.5 miles from where the van was located.

The Winnebago County Coroner's Office transported Brown's body back to Rockford while his family work with an out-of-state funeral home to have his remains returned to Mississippi, the medical examiner's office said.

Police have released surveillance photos of a man they say is wanted in connection with the theft of the Chrysler Town & Country van from outside the funeral home.

The suspect was seen in the photos wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, dark pants, black shoes and white gloves. As of Monday night, police were still looking for the suspect.

Authorities asked anyone with information about the suspect or the theft to contact Rockford Police.

No further details were immediately available.


Meanwhile, online state records show that Brandy Collins, the funeral director of Collins & Stone Funeral Home, has a history of violations and has been investigated by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) several times.

According to IDFPR, those violations include unprofessional conduct, failure to file death certificates in a timely manner, and aiding and assisting unlicensed practice.

Collins was reportedly fined $10,000 in 2021 and placed on a two-year probation that extends until May 2023.

FOX 32 made several attempts to reach Collins & Stone funeral home for a statement but did not immediately hear back.