Body Rots in Hearse, Ala. Funeral Director Charged
Feb 27, 2009 – A funeral director accused of leaving a woman’s body to decay in a parked hearse after her relatives failed to pay the bill was arrested on a felony charge of abusing a corpse, police said Wednesday. Watson and Sons Funeral Home embalmed the remains of Edna Kathleen Woods, 52, after she died of natural causes in November 2007, said Gadsden police Sgt. Jeff Wright. Relatives wanted the body cremated but failed to sign the necessary paperwork or pay owner Harold Watson Sr., he said.
After storing the corpse at his funeral home for more than a year, Wright said, the 76-year-old Watson decided to move it because he couldn’t reach the woman’s family.
Someone complained about a foul smell near downtown Gadsden, about 60 miles northeast of Birmingham, and officers on Tuesday found the woman’s remains in a cardboard box that was inside a locked hearse parked on a piece of property that Watson owns.
Watson was arrested after officers tracked the hearse to him. The body apparently was in the hearse for about two months, and the battery had been removed so no one could move the vehicle, Wright said.
Funeral directors with unclaimed bodies can file a petition to have counties dispose of remains.
“He knows better. The family wouldn’t pay him, so he just got rid of it,” Wright said.
Watson was free on bond and did not immediately return a message left at his funeral home. It was not immediately known if he had an attorney.
The head of the state office that regulates Alabama’s funeral industry said Watson could lose his director’s license if convicted.
“We don’t have many cases this bizarre,” said Warren Higgins, executive secretary of the Alabama Board of Funeral Service. “We’re just waiting to hear more from the authorities in Gadsden.”
Police didn’t know how much the woman’s relatives owed, and it wasn’t clear who notified officers about the hearse.
Higgins said the funeral agency had not received any complaints about Watson’s work since the early 1980s, when questions arose about whether he could use the name “Watson and Sons” for the business because his sons were not licensed morticians.
Watson was allowed to continue using the name provided he hired a licensed embalmer, Higgins said. Watson is not licensed to embalm bodies.
Article By: JAY REEVES, AP
Latest posts by CDFuneralNews (see all)
- IS FACEBOOK NOW PAY-TO-PLAY? | DISRUPTu! 038 - February 5, 2018
- Homesteaders Recognizes Account Executives for Outstanding Achievement - February 5, 2018
- NFDA Introduces the 2018 Meet the Mentors Program Participants - January 30, 2018
You may be interested
IS FACEBOOK NOW PAY-TO-PLAY? | DISRUPTu! 038CDFuneralNews - February 5, 2018
Are you ready to fight...!? Ready to FIGHT those recent Facebook Newsfeed changes?! You're in luck with this week's brand…
Homesteaders Recognizes Account Executives for Outstanding AchievementCDFuneralNews - February 5, 2018
West Des Moines, Iowa — Homesteaders Life Company, a national leader in pre-need funeral funding, held its national sales meeting and recognition…
We are Building Something Exciting for You… and We Need Your Help!Justin Crowe - January 31, 2018
We want to make your deathcare job easier. Tell us what you want in this 2-minute survey and get entered to win $100! The Connecting Directors and Disrupt Media teams are excited to be planning some new free funeral home marketing content and products for you in 2018 and we want to know what you need most! We want to know your biggest business wins of 2017, the tasks in your day that you hate, and what you feel is holding you back!