An Upstate grand jury has indicted the co-owners of a Spartanburg funeral home in connection with a decomposed body discovered in a locked storage room earlier this year.
Pastors Lawrence Robert Meadows and Roderick Mitchell Cummings, who own First Family Funeral Home, were indicted Friday on separate counts of desecration of human remains, Attorney General Alan Wilson announced Monday.
The indictments allege Meadows and Cummings failed 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 receive is 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000.
State Sen. Scott Talley, attorney for First Family, did not immediately return an email seeking comment.
The indictments follow the pair's arrest by State Law Enforcement Division agents in July, 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 this month to immediately and permanently relinquish its operating license to offer funeral services in South Carolina rather than face disciplinary proceedings.
The home came under scrutiny after the February discovery of Moore's body, which 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 allege the pair, both 40, left the body to rot after Moore’s family failed to pay the funeral bill in full.