AUBURN — A jury on Friday awarded $5.5 million to the daughter of a man whose body lay decomposing for weeks in the basement of a Lewiston funeral home last year.

Kenneth Kincer, right, owner of Affordable Cremation Solution in Lewiston, stands with his attorney, James Haddow, as they watch the jury file in Wednesday at the start of a civil trial in Androscoggin County Superior Court in Auburn. A jury awarded Marielle Bischoff-Wurstle, 34, of Falmouth, $5.5 million Friday as compensation for significant emotional damage suffered because her father’s body was left to decompose for weeks in the basement of the funeral home last year. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal file

The stunning verdict was announced after two hours of jury deliberation. More than a dozen people have filed lawsuits against Kenneth Kincer, the owner of Affordable Cremation Solution on Main Street in Lewiston. This was the first to go to trial.

After two days of testimony, the jury apparently agreed that Marielle Bischoff-Wurstle, 34, of Falmouth had suffered significant emotional damage after learning that her father’s remains had been mishandled by the funeral home.

In her lawsuit against the home, Bischoff-Wurstle​ had asked for $5 million. The jury came back from deliberations shortly before 2 p.m. and awarded that amount plus $500,000 more.

Outside of the courthouse, attorney Meryl Poulin said her client felt “validated” by the jury’s decision.

“The jury has spoken loud and clear: What Ken Kincer and Affordable Cremation Solution did was wrong, and what the victims lost was significant,” said Ben Gideon, of the law firm Gideon Asen, which represented Bischoff-Wurstle.


Bruce Wurstle died May 30, 2021, at Russell Park Rehabilitation and Living Center in Lewiston. His older daughter, Leslie Pike of North Yarmouth, contacted Affordable Cremation Solution, which picked up Wurstle’s body the same day.

She had been told her father’s remains should be ready for her to pick up by the next week. But after filling out online forms and making repeated phone calls to the funeral home, she had gotten no response, she testified Wednesday.

Finally, on June 9, an agitated man answered the phone and told Pike that none of the bodies at the funeral home had been cremated.

On June 16, Pike got a call from a woman at the Office of Chief Medical Examiner in Augusta, telling her that they believed they had her father’s body in their custody, but would need her to identify it and move it to a funeral home.

The woman told Pike that the Lewiston funeral home had been shut down by the state and the funeral director’s license had been suspended.

It had been more than two weeks since her father had died.


Pike couldn’t face the prospect of identifying her father, whose body, like others left in that basement, would be difficult to identify due to the likely advanced decomposition that had occurred during the intervening weeks in temperatures nearing 100 degrees.

But it was Pike’s sister, Bischoff-Wurstle, who suffered the greatest effect of the funeral home’s delays in cremating their father, according to trial testimony.

Bischoff-Wurstle said she had learned about the funeral home’s troubles through a TV newscast that described in graphic detail the state of the corpses found there, including the description of a “reddish-brown fluid flowing into the drain in the floor.”

She later learned that a decomposing body bloats from the inside out and how muscles, organs and skin begin to liquify before fluids leak from the body.

The “horrifying images” those words evoke “have become Marielle’s final memory of her dad,” Poulin said during the trial.

Pike also has a lawsuit filed against Kincer.


The case against Kincer, described as an alcoholic who let his business fall to shambles, has been a grisly one since news first broke about conditions at Affordable Cremation Solution early in 2021. Co-workers said that even as the bodies were piling up at the business, Kincer insisted that they keep bringing in more of the deceased because they needed the money.

“My personal life spilled over into my professional life and things got messed up that never should have happened,” Kincer said in court this week.

The state ultimately shut down the business and suspended Kincer’s license.

The next trial could get underway as soon as November.

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