New York Dolls founder ARTHUR 'KILLER' KANE's remains had to be cremated because Mormon officials refused to release his body to his estranged wife before they started decomposing.

Barbara Kane wanted to honour her late husband's wishes and bury him next to former Dolls stars Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan in Mount St Mary's cemetery in Brooklyn, New York, but Mormon elders refused to let her get close to the body.

Kane's bitter widow insists she wasn't even told her husband, a Mormon convert, was ill by his lawyer until just before Kane lost his battle with leukaemia last year (04), ironically a month after the New York Dolls reunion show in London.

And when she came to collect her husband's belongings and his body, the Mormons refused her access - because they didn't recognise her as his wife.

She recalls, "As far as they were concerned, everything that Arthur had belonged to the Mormon Church... They said nothing belonged to me.

"They even prevented me from actually accessing my husband's body out of the county morgue... All I wanted to do was kiss him goodbye but they prevented me from doing that."

Eventually, the body was released to Kane - but she couldn't bury her husband because his remains were so decomposed.

She adds, "The mortician said, 'We're very sorry Mrs Kane but we can't take your husband back east. He's too badly decomposed.' They poured embalming fluid over him and wrapped him in a piece of plastic and that was it. He laid there over a month! They said the only thing they could do with him was to cremate him.

"He died on 13 July and they finally accessed his body a month later (15AUG05)."

Kane now keeps her late husband's ashes in an urn at her home in California, while she decides what to do with them.