Body Found Rotting for 3 Years in SC Funeral Home…How it Happened is Disgraceful
Five months ago, Fred Parker Jr. got a call he never imagined. He was told that his late wife Mary Alice Pitts Moore’s body was found locked in an unrefrigerated storage room of First Family Funeral Home in Spartanburg, South Carolina. This was the funeral home that handled Mary Alice Pitts Moore’s death in 2015 and supposedly had her cremated, although after 3 years of calling and in-person confrontations Fred Parker Jr. still had not been given the ashes.
Mary Alice Pitts Moore died at the age of 63, and her family gathered what money they could to hold a proper funeral for the beloved wife, mother, and friend-of-many. Her funeral was attended by about 100 people who gathered at the AME church in rural Greenwood, SC. This service gave the family and community peace of mind that Mary had been sent off respectfully with a beautiful service, speeches, and music.
I just thought she would be in a better place somewhere,” her son Taras Parker told the Post and Courier.
First Family Funeral Home was paid in full to have Mary Alice Pitts Moore’s body cremated – and that is what Fred and Taras Parker assumed happened. The funeral home failed to provide the cremated remains for 3 years, but even then the frustrated family trusted that everything had been carried out as promised – their discontent was aimed at the poorly functioning funeral home.
It came as a devastating shock in February 2018 when the family received news that Moore’s body had been found in First Family Funeral Home building. For all that time, she had laid in an unrefrigerated locked room draped in blankets and surrounded by air fresheners to mask the rancid stench of her corpse which had been rotting for 3 years. The body was in such bad shape that it took investigators two weeks to identify the body.
Three years,” Parker said. “How would you feel? It gets worse every day just thinking about it.
When the news broke this spring, another local funeral home stepped in and performed the cremation for free. It’s not totally clear why First Family never had the body cremated – it seems simple enough. Instead, they allowed the corpse to literally become a skeleton in their closet for over 3 years.
First Family Funeral Home’s license is now under suspension, and The State Law Enforcement Division has a criminal investigation is underway.
The South Carolina Funeral Board has taken a different approach and won’t even confirm it is looking into First Family Funeral Home. They did, however, confirm that they failed to find Moore’ s body on the premises during their December 2017 inspection of First Family. It is also not clear whether the state was aware of the two other customer complaints against First Family for financial improprieties.
To add to the insanity of this situation, the customer complaints cite co-owner Lawrence Meadows as the person who handled their arrangments. Meadows has been banned from being a funeral director since 2015 after forging a name on a dead person’s life insurance paperwork to get access to the funds, according to state records. It’s clear that Meadows has no shame because he then appeared on NBC’s Today show in February 2017 showing off his funeral office and a casket display in a segment hosted by his brother, MSNBC anchor Craig Melvin. At the time of the recording, Moore’s body was presumably in the funeral home and had been decaying for two years.
The funeral board oversees funeral home discipline in South Carolina. Its seats are occupied by industry professionals including members and former leaders of South Carolina’s funeral industry associations.
According to the Post and Courier, “[The funeral board] rarely revokes or suspends a license, preferring to levy reprimands and light fines that keep problem operators in business. Even when licenses are pulled, no one checks to make sure those disciplined are abiding by the rules unless someone files a formal complaint.
According to public records, nearly 40 percent of the 600 complaints filed against funeral homes and their operators were dismissed between 2006 and 2017 with no action taken.
Funeral Consumer Alliance President Joshua Slocum reinforced what seems to be an obvious bias in the organization. He told the Post and Courier that it’s an opaque system rigged to benefit the death industry, concealing misdeeds and leaving consumers in the dark. Slocum continues:
It’s an outrage against public policy and a clear, no-gray-area conflict of interest,” he said. “The system may be legal, but it’s inherently corrupt.
Taras Parker and his father filed a lawsuit against First Family Funeral Home in March 2018. They now, finally, have the cremated remains of Mary Alice Pitts Moore in an urn inside their home.
Via: Post and Courier
I don’t enjoy covering negative stories like this… which there seems to be a lot of recently. I want to be proud of the industry I work in, proud to serve families (by providing memorial products), and excited for the future of death care. But I understand the importance of educating our readers on the news – good or bad – so we can move forward and make decisions in an informed and intelligent way. We are always looking for success stories to cover – please email me at [email protected] to send a tip.