Disturbing details are emerging in the case against Johnson Family Mortuary in Fort Worth. Police were initially called to the South Handley Drive funeral home on July 15 after the building's owner reported finding an undisclosed number of bodies at the property.
At the time, Fort Worth Police declined to release further information, citing the ongoing investigation. But an arrest warrant affidavit filed July 23 with the Tarrant County district clerk reveals that eight bodies were recovered from the empty mortuary, and seven of them had been severely mishandled.
The arrest warrant affidavit describes a horror-house scene of decomposing and bug-infested bodies strewn about the property.
According to the warrant, the owners of the mortuary, Rachel and Dondre Johnson, were behind on their rent and were in the process of being evicted. When detective Matthew Barron arrived at the location, he immediately knew something was wrong.
"I noticed that the odor of decaying flesh could be smelled in the parking lot outside of the building," Barron wrote, adding that the mortuary was not equipped with a refrigeration system for the bodies beyond air conditioning.
Barron went on to describe a horror-house scene of decomposing and bug-infested bodies strewn about the property.
"Evidence of insect infestation and fly pupa was present on and near the corpses. Two of the corpses were those of decomposed children," Barron wrote. "An additional corpse was located in a utility area near the garage. This body was simply wrapped in a sheet and placed on top of a wooden coffee table."
Barron said that several corpses were draining bodily fluids onto the floor. "Buckets had been placed under the bodies in an attempt to contain the draining fluids. A shop vacuum was in the garage and appeared to have been used to vacuum up some of the draining fluid. Numerous bottles of cleaning chemicals and deodorizers were located throughout the building."
According to police, only one of the eight bodies recovered from the mortuary had been properly cared for. "We learned later that this corpse was from a recent funeral and was being prepared for shipment to the family in Kenya," Barron wrote.
Police have arrested Rachel Johnson, 35, and her husband Dondre Johnson, 39, for abuse of corpse, a class A misdemeanor. They were released on bonds of $10,500. Police said that Dondre reported he was not licensed by any state agency; Rachel told police she held a license through the state funeral home commission.
According to a company website, brothers Dondre and Derrick Johnson opened the Johnson Family Mortuary in July 2011 in Fort Worth. In a statement, Fort Worth Police said other arrests are still possible.
"This is a complicated and difficult case," the statement reads. "Our investigators are used to seeing sights like this at homicide crime scenes. They are not accustomed to seeing this at a funeral home or mortuary where family members have entrusted the proprietors to respectfully dispose of their loved ones."