PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — He’s the only funeral director in the small town of Claysville, Washington County.
Not only were his friends and colleagues concerned, but bereaved families also wondered what was going on.
It had all the earmarks of a mystery, “the case of the missing funeral director.” But there was nothing fictional about it.
No one has ever commented yet, to say where he is – or what happened to him.
A couple of weeks ago, 45-year-old Michael Heinrich — the only funeral director in Claysville — closed the doors of his business on Main Street and had not been heard from, until Tuesday morning.
“It’s my understanding that he’s having some health difficulties that he has been working through and that he will be in touch,” Washington Funeral Director Michael Neal said.
It was a story in the Observer Reporter newspaper that prompted Heinrich’s call to Neal who went to mortuary school with him.
“He indicated to me that he will not be back in the business,” Neal said.
Heinrich’s website is “currently unavailable” and phone numbers are not in service.
KDKA did manage to get Heinrich on the phone. He told KDKA’s Mary Robb Jackson that he was “not well, and had been missing work.”
He also says he’s been “planning on selling the business for a while” and that one day he just could not go on. He is at home with his wife and daughter.
He said, that in his 20 years in Claysvlle, he has “known a lot of wonderful people” and that “part of being a funeral director in a small town was really getting to know the families.”
He said he is thankful for everyone’s concern and feels awful if people were upset. He added that his business obligations will be settled.
According to Heinrich, all pre-arrangements are secure as they were entrusted to him – and they will be transferred to other providers at the families’ requests.
Outside the Claysville post office, nearly 91-year-old Dorothy Canan was philosophical.
“If you have problems, you have to get them solved some way, somehow,” she said.