Funeral Industry News

Bag Of Human Organs Leads To Arrest Of Funeral Director

August 27, 2009

Bag Of Human Organs Leads To Arrest Of Funeral Director

image A funeral director in Haines City was arrested and charged Monday after officers say he dumped raw human waste for commercial purposes. Claude Edward Holmes, Jr., 47, was arrested after a bag containing human organs was found by a maintenance worker at the Oakland Cemetery on North 10th Street. Eyewitness News learned that a Polk County maintenance crew member found the bag buried between two grave vaults while working at the cemetery and attempted to pick the bag up, but could not because it was too heavy. He alerted a supervisor who then helped pull the bag from the ground.

After pulling the bag from the ground, they found a trash bag containing a body bag and a bio-hazard bag. The workers told officers the bags had a strong odor of decomposition.

Eyewitness News attempted to talk to someone at the funeral home and a woman who answered the door said she had no comment.

“We’re not taking any interviews at the time. I do apologize,” she said.

One customer, however, did talk to Eyewitness News.”Did they explain why they would do something like this?”

WFTV reporter Daralene Jones asked.”I did have a chance to talk with her and they did call us and we did talk with them. I have confidence in the funeral the home I don’t like to kick anyone when they’re down,” funeral home customer Patricia Baker said.”What explanation did they give?” Jones asked.”I’d really rather not say. This is a hard time for me already in the loss of my mother Saturday,” she replied.

Investigators said Holmes tried to blame one of his employees for the crime.

The bio-hazard bag contained internal organs as the result of an autopsy. Polk County Sheriff?s Office detectives determined the remains were that of Robert Donaldson, who died June 7, 2009. In a twist, Donaldson was not buried at Oakland Cemetery, but at a cemetery in Lake Wales.

Detectives met with Holmes at his place of business where he admitted to burying the remains. He also admitted to dumping remains at the Oakland Cemetery approximately ten to15 times since 2000.

Holmes has an extensive criminal arrest history dating from 1989 to 2008. Arrest charges include fraud, possession of cocaine and marijuana, traffic charges, battery-domestic violence, battery on a law enforcement officer, failure to pay child support, failure to appear, violation of probation and failing to register as a felon. He’s currently on probation for resisting arrest without violence.

Claude Holmes was given no bond on the violation of probation charge. A judge, however, set a $2,500 bond on the resisting without violence charge and another $2,500 on the dumping raw human waste for commercial purposes charge.

Holmes remains in jail with no bond and faces up to 7 years in prison for each count of improperly disposing of raw human remains.

Source: Channel 9