Operator of Johnson Family Mortuary charged with abuse of corpse

FORT WORTH (WFAA) - Authorities have arrested the manager of the Johnson Family Mortuary with seven counts of abuse of a corpse after eight bodies were found unattended Tuesday inside the business.

According to Sgt. Raymond Bush, Rachel Johnson was arrested at her home and transported to a Fort Worth city jail. Authorities said the charges came after they determined the remains were treated in an offensive manner.

"A case like this is a little more complicated than other arrests we make on a day to day basis," Bush said of why it took several days after the discovery to make an arrest. "To my knowledge, we haven't had a case exactly like this for almost 10 years."

Abuse of a corpse is a Class A misdemeanor. Bush said there's a good chance more arrests will be made in the case.

"It's an open and active investigation and we don't have any additional information on that at this time," he said.

While authorities have identified five of the bodies, they're still working to determine the identities of the remaining three, including two stillborn infants and a woman.

Family members expressed outrage after news of the discovery came out earlier in the week. The owner of the building where the Johnson Family Mortuary operates alerted police after he entered the business and found the bodies. According to the landlord, he told staff to vacate the building about two weeks prior to the date he made the discovery.

The Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office removed the bodies from the business, which didn't have refrigerated storage. The bodies were found in "varying stages of decomposition, some quite advanced," said Raymond Bush, a spokesman with Fort Worth police.

Dondre Johnson, one of two twin brothers who run the funeral home according to the business' Facebook page, called it a misunderstanding.

"I've been in business 25 years and I'll continue to serve the community," he said Tuesday.

Mr. Johnson also claimed to be opening another location in the future.

However, the license for the business was set to expire at the end of July. Due to previous previous problems with the Texas Funeral Service Commission, Mr. Johnson was no longer allowed to hold a license. Previous to Tuesday's, discovery, the commission had shut down another of his funeral homes.

The current license was placed in the name of Mrs. Johnson, Dondre's wife. According to state records, she served as the manager of the home.

Victoria Vasquez, 53, was among the bodies found inside the business. Lupe Mata, Vasquez's sister, said they held a service for her in June.

The family said the funeral home smelled and Vasquez didn't appear right.

Mrs. Johnson visited the Vasquez family Wednesday at their home to apologize.

The Johnson brothers were set to be part of a reality show on Lifetime. However, Elizabeth Vasquez, a granddaughter of Victoria, said the pair "don't deserve 15 minutes of fame; they deserve 15 minutes of shame."



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