Fort Worth

July 19, 2014

Second Fort Worth mortuary co-owner accused of abusing corpses turns himself in

Dondre Johnson was processed through the Tarrant County Jail early Saturday, less than 24 hours after his wife, Rachel Hardy-Johnson, 35, was arrested.

A second co-owner of an east Fort Worth mortuary turned himself in early Saturday on charges of abusing seven corpses found unattended and in advanced stages of decomposition inside the business Tuesday.

Dondre Johnson, 39, was processed through the Tarrant County Jail at about 2 a.m. Saturday, according to records from the Tarrant County district clerk’s website. His bail had been set at $10,500.

His wife, Rachel Hardy-Johnson, 35, was arrested on seven warrants at her Arlington home by fugitive officers around lunchtime Friday. She declined to comment as she was escorted into the Fort Worth Jail.

The two are accused of treating in “an offensive manner” the remains of seven of the eight bodies found Tuesday morning inside the Johnson Family Mortuary, 1051 S. Handley Drive. Abuse of a corpse is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.

While police would not say how long the bodies were suspected of being at the mortuary, death records indicate five died in March, April and May.

The building’s landlord called police Tuesday morning to report he had found the bodies inside after previously ordering the mortuary owners to vacate the building for nonpayment of rent.

Officials have said that all but one of the eight bodies — six adults and two stillborn infants — showed advanced signs of decomposition. None of the bodies showed signs of trauma or foul play, the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office has said.

Hardy-Johnson was released from the Mansfield Jail after posting $10,500 bail.

Dondre Johnson, who had been released from jail at about 1:30 a.m. Friday in an unrelated child support case, has previously acknowledged that the bodies were not refrigerated but said it was not required by the state.

An official with the Texas Funeral Service Commission has said that bodies must be maintained between 34 degrees and 40 degrees, or be embalmed, or be encased in a container that ensures against the seepage of fluids or the escape of odors.

Staff writer Patrick M. Walker contributed to this report, which includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

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