On Oct. 28, Jim and Peggy Parkinson of Millsboro were forced to make a difficult decision. Because of a case of melanoma that had sickened their 32-year-old Arabian mare D-Dyn for weeks, they had the champion horse put down to escape further pain.
As it turned out, though, the events that followed were possibly more painful for the Parkinsons than having to make that decision.
After dropping D-Dyn off on Oct. 28 to be cremated, kennel officials reportedly told the Parkinsons her remains should be available the next week. Every day after, the Parkinsons said they called the kennel and were told the machines were down, and the cremation would be done the next day. When Peggy Parkinson was finally handed a trash bag of ashes said to be D-Dyn’s on Nov. 11 after more than two weeks of heartache and a police report stemming from the strange situation, things only got worse.
Upon inspection, two friends and a police officer, who accompanied Peggy Parkinson to the kennel on Saturday found D-Dyn — who had supposedly already been cremated — lying dead on the floor of the crematorium.
State Police arrested the Frankford-area kennel’s owner George Baldwin and charged him with theft by false pretense for taking the $875 for the cremation and never performing the service. Baldwin was also charged by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control for solid waste violations. Baldwin was released on his own recognizance awaiting a hearing.
“He kept telling me and promising me it would be done the next day,” Jim Parkinson said of Baldwin on Monday on his way back from the University of Maryland where he took D-Dyn to be cremated. “It’s getting to the point where we’re getting over the loss and the tragedy of losing the animal and we’re getting to the point where we’re getting angry,” Parkinson added. “We’re looking for justice to have the law punish this gentleman for what he’s done.”
When reached at home on Monday, Baldwin blamed the ordeal on an unfamiliar temporary employee and faulty machinery. Baldwin, claming that foot injuries keep him from working, said that he paid someone — who he could not identify — $50 to handle the cremation. It was this unidentified employee that caused the mix-up with the ashes, Baldwin said.
“There’s a lot of clowns around here,” Baldwin said. “I thought I was just about as innocent as I can get.”
The cremation was originally delayed because of a lack of propane in one of the crematorium’s machines, Baldwin added. When asked, Jim Parkinson did not believe either of Baldwin’s assertions.
“He’s a bold-faced liar,” Jim Parkinson said. “He lied to the Delaware State Police. He lied to DNREC. He is a common person”
The Parkinsons first dropped D-Dyn off at Bethany Beach Kennel — the only business they could find to perform such a large cremation — on Oct. 28. According to Jim Parkinson, they were told they could pick up the remains early the next week. Parkinson said he called Bethany Beach Kennels every day the week of Oct. 30, only to get a story about faulty machinery and to be told the cremation would be done the next day.
On Monday, Nov. 6, after a week-long runaround, Jim Parkinson returned to the kennel to find D-Dyn lying in the same spot where she had originally been when he left more than a week earlier. Parkinson said he took pictures and reported the incident to the Delaware State Police. The State Police contacted Baldwin, who then gave the same story about faulty equipment, saying that the cremation should be done in the next couple of days, according to state police spokesman Jeff Oldham and Jim Parkinson. Jim Parkinson said that while at the Return Day festivities in Georgetown, he and his wife received word that D-Dyn was being cremated and they could pick up her remains anytime after 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 11.
Peggy Parkinson allegedly paid the $875 before police found D-Dyn still lying in the crematorium. Jim Parkinson said that dead dogs and cats lined the crematorium along with D-Dyn.
Oldham and DNREC Air and Waste Enforcement Capt. William McDaniel said they have never seen such a case. Oldham said that the state police have not received other complaints about the Frankford-area kennel.
An account has been set up at Mercantile Peninsula Bank in Georgetown under the names of Jim and Peggy Parkinson and D-Dyn to help defer some of the costs of the ordeal. It is still unclear whether the Parkinsons will take further legal action against Baldwin and the kennel.
“I’ve had to stay strong to help my wife through it,” Jim Parkinson said of the ordeal earlier this week, adding that his wife’s arm was injured on Saturday after falling at the kennel. “It’s going to take a little time with everything that’s happened but we have a lot of good friends.”