Johnson Family Mortuary Manager Faces Abuse of a Corpse Charges

Records from state regulators reveal troubled history

Two owners of a Fort Worth funeral home where eight decaying bodies were discovered this week now face criminal charges.

Rachel Hardy-Johnson, who state records show managed the Johnson Family Mortuary, was arrested Friday and charged with seven counts of abuse of a corpse, according to a police statement.

She was arraigned and was to be transported to a Tarrant County jail with bond set at $10,500, but it was unclear if she had an attorney, said Officer Sharron Neal, a Fort Worth police spokeswoman. Court records do not list an attorney.

Johnson's husband, Dondre Johnson, and his twin brother, Derrick Johnson, run the home, according to the business' website.

Seven corpse-abuse counts also were filed against Dondre Johnson, but he was not yet in custody Friday evening, Neal said. He has been contacted and is expected to turn himself in, but it was unknown when, she said.

Abuse of a corpse, a Class A misdemeanor, is punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000 per count.

The Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office has said seven of the eight bodies found Tuesday at the business were in advanced stages of decomposition, though none showed signs of trauma or foul play. The Johnsons' landlord notified authorities after he went to the facility and found the bodies, but no workers.

The property owner said he told the Johnsons about two weeks ago to vacate the building because they had not paid their rent, according to police.

The Johnsons have said they were tending to the bodies as they awaited burial or transportation for burial elsewhere.

Texas Funeral Service Commission records obtained by NBC 5 under the Texas open records law revealed a long paper trail of troubles for the Johnson Family Mortuary.

The business had no funeral director and should not have been operating, according to state records.

Just last month, regulators sent a letter to Rachel Johnson, who also used the last name Hardy, declaring her provisional license had expired, and informing her that she "must cease and desist any and all acts of funeral directing and/or embalming immediately.”

Records show another funeral director was hired for a short time, but he left July 1, meaning the funeral home had nobody licensed to run the facility, and should not have been conducting business at all.

Dondre Johnson was in the Tarrant County Jail Thursday night on an unrelated charge of failure to pay child support. He bonded out overnight.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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