A woman learned this week that a Fort Worth mortuary that’s being investigated did not cremate her mother like planned and gave her someone else’s ashes.
Eight bodies were found Tuesday at Johnson Family Mortuary on Handley Street. The owner of the building made the discovery and said he had evicted the mortuary’s operators, brothers Derrick and Dondre Johnson, weeks before.
Last week, Michelle Jones-McElhanon went to the mortuary to pick up her mother’s death certificate, three months after the funeral.
Karen Pearl Jones died in April and was supposed to have been cremated, but Jones-McElhanon says that from the minute she opened the door to the mortuary, her gut told her something was wrong.
No one was there, the front door was unlocked and there was an overpowering stench.
“When we went in there, I had to raise my shirt over my face,” said Jones-McElhanon.
Her mother died after suffering from a long illness, and Jones-McElhanon took great care with funeral preparations.
“I handmade all the flowers for her,” said Jones-McElhanon. “I personalized her dress with peace.”
When she learned Tuesday that police were investigating the funeral home, Jones-McElhanon’s heart sank.
“She doesn’t want to be buried,” said Jones-McElhanon. “She said that she never wants to be left to rot. She said she wanted to be cremated, and they took that choice from us.”
Jones-McElhanon had already received a black box from the mortuary, which she was told contained her mom's ashes.
“I've been sitting at home over a month thinking that I have my mother with me,” said Jones-McElhanon. “It's not fair.”
The Emerald Hills Funeral Home in Kennedale has offered free services for all of the families impacted by the investigation. Because of that offer, Jones-McElhanon says she'll be able to fulfill her mom's dying wishes.
“At least I'll finally get to bring her home,” said Jones-McElhanon.
As of Tuesday, Johnson Family Mortuary had five open complaints against its license, according to the Texas Funeral Commission in Austin. The license expires on July 31 and will not be renewed, officials said.
Dondre Johnson was arrested Wednesday night on an unrelated contempt of court charge.
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