The owners of the property where a funeral home in Texas operated asked the business to vacate two weeks ago, but what police found Tuesday left on the premises is drawing criticism for the operation.
Police in Fort Worth, Texas, found and removed eight bodies in “varying stages of decay” at the Johnson Family Mortuary. According to the Dallas Morning News, police said the bodies, which ranged in age from infant to adult, were not stored in a refrigerated state and as a result smelled. Some bodies were identified and family members were being contacted.
But the family that operates the funeral home argued that what police found was exactly what one should expect at such an establishment.
“We’ve done nothing wrong,” Dondre Johnson told the Morning News. “This is a funeral home. This is where dead bodies belong.”
He added that the bodies — one of which was embalmed while the others were in black bags — were properly stored.
The whole issue started with a “misunderstanding” with the landlord and the funeral home’s previous owner, but the Morning News noted that Johnson did not elaborate on why an eviction was being sought.
Though the company is officially licensed, it expires at the end of this month and will not be renewed because there are several complaints against the funeral home. The Morning News has more on one such complaint:
Patricia Fillmore said she paid the Johnsons $400 in December to bury her grandmother. She said that after they mishandled the funeral plans, her family took her grandmother to another mortuary. Her money was never refunded.
Fillmore said she was disappointed in the Johnsons’ attitudes and pointed to their luxury car as an indication of their priorities.
“Where’s the sentimental part of the business?” Fillmore asked. “They need to shut down right now.”
“You can have a complaint, and then you go there and take care of the complaint and move past it,” Johnson told the Morning News, dismissing the issues.
In addition to outstanding complaints though, KTVT-TV uncovered several other issues with the business. One of these was its apparent lack of a licensed director, which is required in the state. The news station also noted that while Johnson Family Mortuary opened in 2011, the same family owned and closed another funeral business in 2007 because, they say, it was located near a strip club. But a lawsuit says that the Johnsons were sued for not paying thousands of dollars owed in rent.
Watch KTVT’s report about what was found in the funeral home and the issues it uncovered:
Derrick Johnson, Dondre Johnson’s twin brother who is a part-owner in the business, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram the whole ordeal “caught me by surprise,” because he only helps out as needed.
“I hate that the whole situation happened because it reflects on me, my family and the other family members who are involved, and our godfather who mentored us, Gregory Spencer,” Derrick Johnson said, mentioning the former pastor and funeral director who died in 2003.
“We are praying for the families as well as ourselves and we hate that this has happened,” Derrick Johnson told the Star-Telegram. “No weapon formed against us shall prosper and we thank all the haters for the free advertising.”
As of Tuesday, no one was arrested and no charges were filed. The funeral home owners said they plan to open their business at another location.