The Associated Press reports that three men were arrested and charged this week following the discovery earlier this year of cadavers in a closed funeral home. The owners of the funeral home, LeRoy Wood, age 86, and his son Ron Wood, age 61, were charged along with the general manager of the funeral home, Edward Snow.
From the AP story:
According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal charges, Snow and other employees "began placing bodies wherever they could find a space for them in room temperature. Bodies were stacked on top of one another, on pallets, on the washer and dryer and on every available space they could find. Coffee cans with deodorizer were placed next to bodies to help with the odor in the room."
Employees told police that the Woods refused to stop taking bodies despite the lack of space, according to the affidavit. The employees said there was an unusually high volume of death calls in January, but that the owners added to the back-up by refusing to perform services until they were paid in full.
According to the affidavit, the owners authorized services on some bodies once the investigation began. Investigators removed 31 bodies and 22 sets of cremated remains. The condition of 13 of those bodies was believed to qualify for charges of abuse of a corpse.
The State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors investigated after a former employee complained. The board's records show LeRoy Wood surrendered his funeral director license, his crematory license and his funeral establishment license after signing a consent agreement with the board in early February that also required him to pay a $10,000 fine and refund payments to families that had not received adequate services.
The Arkansas statute defining "abuse of a corpse" is based on Model Penal Code statute 250.10. The statute reads:
(a) A person commits abuse of a corpse if, except as authorized by law, he or she knowingly:
Dougan v. State, 322 Ark. 384, 392, 912 S.W.2d 400, 404 (1995).
In Arkansas, each Class C felony is punishable by a prison term no less than three years and no more than ten years. Each of the three men, if convicted on all 13 counts, therefore faces prison terms ranging from 39 to 130 years. Civil lawsuits are also apparently being filed by the kin of some of the deceased.