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Government Fort Worth mortuary owners charged with abuse of corpse

Fort Worth mortuary owners charged with abuse of corpse

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Robert Francis
Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — North Texas police have filed criminal charges against two owners of a funeral home where eight decaying bodies were discovered earlier this week.

Rachel Hardy-Johnson 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.

She and her husband, Dondre Johnson, owned Johnson Family Mortuary in Fort Worth.

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 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 home 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. It wasn’t immediately clear Friday if Hardy-Johnson has an attorney.

The Texas Funeral Service Commission has said it is investigating five separate complaints against the business. The state license for the mortuary expires at the end of July.

Hardy-Johnson previously told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that the landlord locked the doors last month because the business was behind on rent. The mortuary got behind again, and the landlord went to the business Tuesday when he knew no one would be there “so he could lock us out again,” Hardy-Johnson said.

“There was a legal way to do this,” Hardy-Johnson said. “You cannot just throw us out. He knew we had bodies inside. We’ve been in this location for four years without a problem. He did not care how much hurt he caused those families.”  

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