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Fort Worth billboard apologizes for neglecting bodies

FORT WORTH — Almost four years after authorities found three decomposing bodies inside a repossessed van, a former cadaver transportation company owner is publicly apologizing for his actions on a highway billboard.

Donald Richard Short, who was sentenced to 30 days in jail and 2 years' probation in 2006 after pleading no contest to three charges of corpse abuse, was required to write the message and pay for the billboard at Highway 121 and Beach Street as part of his probation, confirmed prosecutor Hugo Martinez.

“I should treat the deceased in my care with dignity and respect. I utterly failed them, their families and the community. I am remorseful and I apologize. – Donald Short,” reads the billboard message.

Short was arrested in March 2005 for mishandling the bodies of Lonnie Leffall, 93; Odis Hughes, 44; and Thomas Shadowens, 89.

The remains of the men — who died in 2000 of natural cases and were supposed to have been cremated — were found zipped in dirty body bags, stacked atop of each other, and hidden under cardboard boxes inside Short’s repossessed van after it was towed from his Hurst home.

Judge Deborah Nekhom Harris ordered Short to make the unusual public apology.

Todd Dalton, sales manager for Lamar Advertising, said the message was posted on Thursday and will remain up for a month. He said the cost of renting a billboard at that location is between $2,500 to $3,000. DEANNA BOYD, 817-390-7655