Fort Worth

August 20, 2014

Cleaning crew at former mortuary finds another box of ashes

Seven boxes of ashes have been found in the former Johnson Family Mortuary since it was shut down last month after eight unrefrigerated corpses were discovered.

Another box of ashes was found this week in the building that once housed the Johnson Family Mortuary in east Fort Worth.

Cleaning people found the ashes in a plastic bag inside a black box similar to six other boxes of ashes collected by authorities since the mortuary was closed down last month, said Jim Labenz, who owns the building at 1051 S. Handley Drive.

The latest box was turned over to police and was to be sent to the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office for analysis, Cpl. Tracey Knight, a police spokeswoman, said in an email.

On July 15, the remains of eight unrefrigerated corpses were found inside the funeral home. Mortuary owners Dondre Johnson and Rachel Hardy-Johnson were arrested and face seven misdemeanor charges of abuse of a corpse.

Labenz said he and two business partners found out Tuesday that the latest box was found on a portable shelf behind cleaning and embalming supplies.

The Johnsons cleared out the rest of their belongings from the mortuary Aug. 14, he said.

A cleaning crew has finished cleaning and gutting the place, and carpet in the chapel area of the mortuary was ripped out.

“We finally got everything out, and they’ve gone their way and we’ve gone our way,” he said. “We will try our best to revamp our building and get rid of the stigma there. I feel bad for the city with all the negative publicity.”

Labenz said that area of east Fort Worth is being revived, and he hopes to find a new tenant who will contribute to that process.

Staff writer Mitch Mitchell contributed to this report.

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