Amherst funeral director dies in "suspicious" incident

Charles Durante found unconscious on Bailey Avenue; Died at ECMC

Mike Baggerman
November 04, 2019 - 10:23 am

Amherst Police investigate near John E. Roberts Funeral Home on Bailey Avenue after man found unconscious Monday morning. November 4, 2019 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)


AMHERST, N.Y. (WBEN) - An Amherst funeral director has died in a "suspicious" incident near a funeral home.

Amherst Police said Charles Durante died at ECMC on Monday afternoon, just hours after he was taken there after he was found unconscious in the middle of Bailey Avenue near Grover Cleveland Highway. Durante, 43, was the funeral director at John E. Roberts Funeral Home at that intersection and lived in an apartment above the business

"We can't definitively say why this person has died and what caused his injuries," Amherst Police Captain Chris Meyer told reporters Monday afternoon. "I can't rule out it's a homicide. However, we don't definitively know that it was a homicide."

Police were called to that intersection shortly after 6 a.m. Monday. Hours later, multiple fire companies were at scene for a hazmat situation. Meyer said this was done for precautionary reasons for investigators and that there was no cause of concern for the public because the chemicals inside the home were common for a funeral home, but it caused a concern for investigators. Specifically, Meyer said a cavity embalming fluid called "dri cav" emitted an odor that worried investigators.

Few details about Durante death were announced, though Amherst Police ruled out a shooting or hit-and-run. Meyer said that someone saw Durante walk out of the funeral home and stumble into the roadway.

John E. Roberts Funeral Home has two locations in the region. The company's president, James J. Roberts, told WBEN by phone that Durante was a valued employee.

"We are crushed to lose him as an employee and as a friend and as a co-worker," Roberts said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Amherst Police at 689-1322.

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