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Body left to rot in a funeral home 3 years leading to cost

COLUMBIA, S. C. – Two South Carolina funeral home employees have been indicted after authorities say they left a body to rot in an unrefrigerated room surrounded by air fresheners in almost three years, because the family of the woman owed them money.

Lawrence Robert Meadows and Roderick Mitchell Cummings, both 40, were charged Friday by a state grand jury with violation of human remains. A conviction on the charges carries a sentence of one year to 10 years in prison.

They were supposed to cremate 63-year-old Mary Alice Pitts Moore after her burial in Greenwood in March 2015, but instead left her remains in a closed space under the blankets and surrounded by a fragrant items, and even moved her body from one funeral home to another 65 miles (105 kilometres away, according to a lawsuit filed by Moore’s family.

Moore remains were so badly decomposed when found in February at the First Family Funeral Home in Spartanburg it took two weeks of the review of the medical records to confirm her identity, Spartanburg County Coroner Rusty Clevenger said.

Cummings and Meadows held the body, because Moore’s family is not paying the entire bill, according to an arrest warrant the State Law Enforcement Division.

The state Board of Funeral Service revoked the license of the First Family Funeral Home, earlier this month, after complaints of Moore’s family and others.

Meadows lost his funeral director’s license in April 2015 in a non-related issue, after he forged the signature and other information on a life insurance document when the person with control of the policy, refused to use it to pay for the funeral, according to state records.

Cummings has never been a funeral license in South Carolina, according to the documents.

Meadows’ attorney, state Sen. Scott Talley, not a phone message Monday. Court records indicate Cummins is acting as his own lawyer and calls to a listing for his home went unanswered.

Moore’s family held a Celebration of Life where her body was examined shortly after her March 26, 2015, the death. Her remains were then supposed to be cremated and returned to the family.

The Post and Courier of Charleston reported on Moore as part of a June series detailing poor supervision of the funeral homes around the state.

Moore’s husband, Fred Parker Jr., said another funeral director, went ahead and cremated his wife’s body. Her ashes sit in an urn in his Greenwood house next to a small portrait made of her driving — it is the only photo he has.

“Three years,” Parker said to the newspaper in a low growl, slowly drawing out the words. “How would you feel? It gets worse every day just thinking about it.”

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Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP. Read his work on https://apnews.com/search/jeffrey%20collins.

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