Thursday, July 17
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — No signs of trauma or foul play were found on eight decaying bodies discovered at an abandoned funeral home in Fort Worth, Texas, officials said.
Seven of the eight bodies found Tuesday at the Johnson Family Mortuary were in advanced stages of decomposition, the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office said Wednesday.
Authorities have said the business, owned by twin brothers Dondre and Derrick Johnson, was already under state investigation and its license was due to expire in two weeks.
Officials know the identities of five of the bodies, but one woman and two stillborn babies have not been identified, according to the coroner's office.
Fort Worth police are investigating the case on abuse-of-corpse charges. Police spokesman Sgt. Raymond Bush said Thursday no charges have been filed.
Phone and email messages also left Thursday for the Johnson brothers were not immediately returned.
The property owner said he told the brothers to vacate the building because they were in arrears with the rent. The owner told police that he found the decomposing bodies Tuesday, but no workers.
John Leslie, an attorney representing the landlord, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that the brothers owed his client rent.
"They have not paid my client," Leslie said. "I'm not going to go into the amount or how much they are in delinquency, but further legal action is likely."
Rachel Hardy-Johnson, Dondre Johnson's wife and a part owner of the mortuary, told the 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."
The mortuary's state license expires at the end of July, according to Kyle Smith, an attorney with the Texas Funeral Service Commission. The business is the focus of five commission investigations, Smith said.
Information from: Fort Worth Star-Telegram, http://www.star-telegram.com