The former co-owners of a Spartanburg funeral home have been sentenced to a year's probation after pleading to criminal charges in connection with a decomposed body discovered in a locked storage room last year.
Pastors Lawrence Robert Meadows and Roderick Mitchell Cummings, who owned the now-defunct First Family Funeral Home, were each charged with desecration of human remains. Cummings pleaded guilty in the case on Dec. 2; Meadows entered a plea of no contest, which registers as a conviction.
Meadows and Cummings were accused of failing to properly care for 63-year-old Mary Alice Pitts Moore’s body, which was left unattended in an unrefrigerated storage room for three years. When recovered, Moore’s body had decomposed beyond recognition, authorities said.
The maximum penalty Meadows and Cummings could have received was 10 years in prison and a fine of $5,000. Circuit Judge R. Keith Kelly handed each a three-year sentence, suspended to 12 months of probation, court records show.
Cummings apologized to Moore's family during the plea hearing and took full responsibility for his actions in the "sad and complicated case," his attorney, Davida Mathis, said.
Meadows' lawyer, Michael Bender, declined to comment on the matter, saying only that his client "looks forward to moving on with his life."
Moore's husband, Fred Parker Jr., could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.
State Law Enforcement Division agents arrested the pair in July 2018, just days after The Post and Courier highlighted Moore’s story in “Grave Misdeeds,” a special report that questioned the state’s system for monitoring the nearly 500 funeral homes and crematories that operate in South Carolina. The article detailed how unscrupulous undertakers continue operating in a system largely governed by funeral industry insiders that is rife with delays, secrecy and potential conflicts.
First Family Funeral Home agreed in August 2018 to immediately and permanently relinquish its operating license to offer funeral services in South Carolina rather than face disciplinary proceedings. Another mortuary now occupies that space.
First Family came under scrutiny after the discovery of Moore’s body in February of last year. Her body was supposed to have been cremated after her March 2015 death. The body had been draped in blankets and surrounded by air fresheners to mask the smell, the county coroner has said.
Neither Meadows nor Cummings was licensed to act as funeral directors at the time of the incident. Cummings never held a funeral director’s license and Meadows lost his in 2015 for forging a name on a dead person’s life insurance paperwork to get access to the funds, according to state records.
Arrest affidavits from SLED alleged the pair, both 40, left the body to rot after Moore’s family failed to pay the funeral bill in full.