In a discovery which the state’s Medical Examiner’s Office has said it has never dealt with before, officials from the Florida police department raided a funeral home on Sunday and discovered 16 bodies in various degrees of decomposition. Two employees from the funeral home have been arrested following the tip the police received about the decomposing bodies.
According to Fox News deputies from the Bay County Sheriff’s office were responding to a tip they received regarding bodies being stored improperly at Brock’s Home Town Funeral Home near Panama City. The two individuals who have been arrested in relation to the crime are Gregory Dunphy, the 64-year-old funeral director and Felicia Boesch, 39, who is the daughter of the owner of the funeral home. The two face numerous charges, a combination of 16 misdemeanor counts of unlawful storage of human remains.
Spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office, Ruth Corley said that the investigators from the Bay area are working with the State Attorney’s Office in order to determine if the two will face additional charges, which could include theft and fraud.
The police officers advised the media of the condition they found the 16 decomposing bodies and the funeral home during their 5 p.m. inspection at 5907 State 77. One of the things that was most shocking to them is that despite the deplorable conditions at Brock’s, the funeral home continued to operate business as usual.
“None of the bodies had been embalmed, those remains whose families requested cremation had not been cremated. Flies were throughout the building… They were still receiving people, they weren’t closed.”
The 16 corpses found in the building are said to have either been kept in the main section of the funeral home, a part which did not have any refrigeration nor even a refrigeration unit. The bodies that Brock’s Home Town Funeral Home took in were regularly kept in these conditions, at improper temperatures. Six of the bodies found had absolutely no refrigeration while an additional 10 bodies were found in an area called the cooler – and is supposed to have a temperature of no more than 40 degrees. The cooler was being kept at 62 degrees.
The NWF Daily News has reported that it was actually Gregory Dunphy who reported the conditions of the funeral home. The funeral director stated that he actually works at another funeral home and had only been at Brock’s Funeral Home for the past three weeks as a favor to C, who had to handle a family emergency. The elderly man said that his time at the home was “a hell of a turmoil for me.”
“The smell, the physical condition of the remains themselves. I mean that’s somebody who is loved… Morally and ethically, I was bound to report it, but I still had to give Felicia the chance to correct it.”
Despite Dunphy’s claims, however, WJHG, an affiliate of NBC, reported that officials from the Bay County Sheriff’s Office have stated that he was not the person to call their office and report the situation. Instead, the office says that a third party whom the funeral director had asked for assistance was appalled at the state of the decomposing bodies and called a lieutenant at the office about the home. Either way though, given the length of Dunphy’s employment at the home Major Jimmy Stanford said that the charges against him will stand.
The Funeral, Cemetery and Consumer Services stated that Brock’s Home Town Funeral Home has voluntarily surrendered their funeral home and cinerator licenses on Tuesday. It has been said that the owners are dismantling the business and a call to their contact number led to a voicemail which relayed that the business has been closed permanently.
The decomposing bodies have been taken in by the medical examiner’s office as a courtesy and because they have the space. They are also working with family members of the decomposing and improperly stored bodies as well as other local funeral homes to make arrangements to lay the deceased to rest.
The families are all devastated by the circumstances. Scott Fernandez, whose mother was one of the bodies found is heartbroken that her funeral will not be the open casket affair that had been planned for her, a way to have a final goodbye. Investigators said that the funeral home neither embalmed nor refrigerated the body. Shannon R. Luck is the niece of one of the decomposing bodies and whose family had actually paid to have a cremation done; now they will have to try and source funds to have the body cremated elsewhere. Some of the 16 bodies found had been at the home for over a month under the pretense that they had been cremated already.
The incident remains under investigation.
[Image via Bay County Sheriff’s Office]