LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - An Arkansas funeral home and its director have voluntarily surrendered their state operating licenses after an inspector found bodies stacked in a cooler packed beyond capacity and other bodies that hadn’t been embalmed lying out in the open.
The state Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors on Friday approved the surrender of licenses of the funeral home, Arkansas Funeral Care of Jacksonville, and its director, LeRoy Wood, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported (https://bit.ly/1CoAU1n ). The funeral home and Wood were also fined a total of $10,000 and forced to surrender the funeral home’s crematory license, effectively closing the facility.
The licenses had been temporarily suspended after the board reviewed a report from inspector Leslie Stokes, who found a cooler “filled beyond capacity with bodies,” including bodies “stacked on top of each other” and seven others outside the cooler that hadn’t been embalmed. One body was “in an obvious state of decomposition,” according to the report.
Officials with the state Crime Laboratory and the Pulaski County coroner’s office removed 31 bodies from the funeral home Wednesday night after the temporary suspension.
Family members of all 31 people had been contacted, and board staff members were working on contacting family members for the 24 cremation remains at the funeral home, Board Executive Secretary Amy Goode said.
Wood agreed to a consent agreement that refunds money to people who paid for services that were not performed on the bodies that were removed from the facility. He also consented to transfer burial policies on those bodies.
The surrender of the licenses and the fines don’t shield Wood or Arkansas Funeral Care from future criminal or civil charges, officials said. Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley said his office had advised the Jacksonville Police Department, with the assistance of the Pulaski County coroner’s office, to investigate and prepare a case file on Arkansas Funeral Care and turn it in to his office.
Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com
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