8 Unidentified Bodies Found in Mortuary Weeks After Eviction

By Scott Gordon and Julie Fine
|  Wednesday, Jul 16, 2014  |  Updated 1:38 PM EDT
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Eight bodies were found in varying stages of decay at a Fort Worth funeral home whose operator was being evicted, police said.

Scott Gordon, NBC 5 News

Eight bodies were found in varying stages of decay at a Fort Worth funeral home whose operator was being evicted, police said.

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Unidentified Bodies at a Fort Worth Funeral Home: Police

Fort Worth police are investigating the discovery of seven bodies at a funeral home whose operator was being evicted, police said.
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Eight bodies were found in varying stages of decay at a Fort Worth funeral home whose operator was being evicted, police said.

The bodies found in the Johnson Family Mortuary belong to people ranging in age from infant to adult, police said. It is not clear how long they were in the funeral home.

The building's landlord had evicted the business' owners two weeks ago, but when the landlord checked on the building Tuesday morning, he found the unattended bodies inside, police told NBC 5.

The landlord contacted police, who then began investigating possible felony abuse of corpse.
Police said the facility did not have any refrigerated rooms, but the building did have working electricity. State regulations require refrigeration for bodies kept longer than 24 hours.

The bodies were removed later Tuesday by the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office, which will identify the remains and notify the families.

The Johnson Family Mortuary's owner, Dondre Johnson, maintains he did nothing wrong.

"Business as usual, until our landlord came today and said he wanted to put us out," he said.

Yvonne Stewart said her family hired the funeral home in April when her aunt, Helen Jones, 70, died of lung cancer.

“We paid for the cremation so it’s not about the money,” Stewart said. “But now, where is my aunt?”

Stewart said the family was unable to reach anyone at the mortuary in the weeks after the funeral.

“Nobody’s here,” she said. “Nobody’s answering the phone.”

On Tuesday, she said, the Tarrant County medical examiner’s officer informed the family that Jones was possibly one of the bodies found inside.

"It’s sad you could do somebody like that," Stewart said. "That’s wrong. People don’t have any respect for the dead anymore."

Johnson said the bodies were properly cared for, and many people in the community came to the business' defense, saying the owners are good people.

Still, NBC 5 has learned they have several complaints against them from the Texas Funeral Service Commission.

"You can have a complaint and go there and get past that," Johnson said.

Now, some former customers wonder about the care of their loved ones.

"I want to know if my mama is resting in peace, and I really don't know that,” said Malette King.

There have been no arrests or charges in the case, and police say the investigation is continuing.

The Johnson Family Mortuary is located at 1051 South Handley Drive in east Fort Worth.

Anyone who believes they may be the next of kin of one of the eight deceased persons found at the funeral home should call the medical examiner's office at 817-920-5700, extension #5.

Court records show Dondre and Derrick Johnson lost a lawsuit filed in 2010 for not paying $159,730 in rent at another funeral home in south Fort Worth.

NBC 5’s Don Peritz Jr. contributed to this report.

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