By Chris Blank, Associated Press Writer
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri’s attorney general on Friday accused a funeral home of improperly handling bodies, including one that was stored in an electrical room for 10 months without being embalmed or refrigerated.
The woman, identified in a lawsuit only as “J.H.,” died Sept. 9 from several types of hepatitis. State inspectors found her body in advanced decay on July 11 at a Columbia funeral home. When inspectors returned four days later, the body was still there. It was then turned over to the medical examiner’s office to be cremated.
The attorney general’s office sued Warren Funeral Chapel Inc. and its operators, Harold Warren Jr. and Harold Warren Sr. A call to the funeral home seeking comment was not immediately returned.
The lawsuit identifies several examples of bodies left outside refrigerators and not embalmed for more than 24 hours. In each case, the individuals are identified only by their initials to protect their privacy.
During a July 16 visit, state inspectors found in the funeral home’s basement a coffin containing “L.F.” and a black garbage bag filled with organs from more than one body. According to the lawsuit, Harold Warren Sr. said he had forgotten to bury the organs with “D.T.” and instead planned to cremate them with “L.F.”
But, according to the lawsuit, state regulators don’t think the organs in the garbage bag belong to “D.T.” either. According to state regulations, remains from more than one body cannot be cremated at the same time.
The lawsuit also accuses the funeral home of embalming bodies when the contract called for cremation.
Inspectors had reported a strong odor throughout the funeral home, a casket with a body and body fluids at the foot, an embalming table covered in blood and utensils that had not been disinfected.
“There are very serious concerns for human health and safety about how this establishment has handled human remains,” Attorney General Jay Nixon said in a statement.
The lawsuit seeks civil fines and a court order barring the company or its owners from operating.