Texas mortuary owners charged with corpse abuse

This undated booking photo provided by the Fort Worth Police Department shows Rachel Hardy-Johnson. North Texas police filed charges Friday, July 18, 2014, against Hardy-Johnson, one of the owners of a funeral home where eight decaying bodies were discovered earlier this week. Fort Worth police Sgt. Raymond Bush said Hardy-Johnson was arrested and charged with seven counts of abuse of a corpse. (AP Photo/Fort Worth Police Department)

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP/KXAN) — North Texas police have filed criminal charges against two owners of a funeral home where eight decaying bodies were discovered last week.

Rachel Hardy-Johnson was arrested Friday and charged with seven counts of abuse of a corpse, according to a police statement. She and her husband, Dondre Johnson, owned Johnson Family Mortuary in Fort Worth. Seven corpse-abuse counts also were filed against Dondre Johnson.

Arrest warrants released Wednesday for the two mortuary managers reveals the bodies found left in the building showed signs of insect infestation. At least one corpse appeared mummified.

Abuse of a corpse is punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000 per count.

The Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office has said seven of the eight bodies found Tuesday at the business were in advanced stages of decomposition, though none showed signs of trauma or foul play. The Johnsons’ landlord notified authorities after he went to the home and found the bodies, but no workers.

The property owner said he told the Johnsons about two weeks ago to vacate the building because they had not paid their rent, according to police.

The Johnsons have said they were tending to the bodies as they awaited burial or transportation for burial elsewhere.

The Texas Funeral Service Commission has said it is investigating five separate complaints against the business. The state license for the mortuary expires at the end of July.

Hardy-Johnson previously told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that the landlord locked the doors last month because the business was behind on rent. The mortuary got behind again, and the landlord went to the business Tuesday when he knew no one would be there “so he could lock us out again,” Hardy-Johnson said.

“There was a legal way to do this,” Hardy-Johnson said. “You cannot just throw us out. He knew we had bodies inside. We’ve been in this location for four years without a problem. He did not care how much hurt he caused those families.”

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