East Texas Mortician Under Investigation - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

06/07/06 - East Texas

East Texas Mortician Under Investigation

by Ramonica R. Jones

A Crockett mortician is accused of hiding a baby's body in the pants of a man's corpse.

Authorities said 41-year-old Stephanie Barkley was reportedly trying to avoid paying a $50 cremation fee for the child's body.

State funeral home regulators Tuesday recommended fining the Houston woman more than $41,000. They also want her funeral director's license permanently revoked.

A state judge will have the final say on the recommendations.

The East Texas News tried to contact Barkley at her offices in Crockett and Houston. She did not return phone calls to KTRE.

Barkley pleaded no contest in Harris County to abusing a corpse. She was sentenced to two years probation.

A crematory worker found the premature baby's body wrapped in a plastic bag, stuffed into the pants leg of a corpse about to be cremated. East Texas funeral home directors were shocked when they heard the news.

Losing a loved one is difficult enough without having to worry about the funeral home you trust to take care of your loved one's remains.

Roy Carroway of Carroway-Claybar Funeral Home said, "The family needs to be sure that the funeral home provides a general price list. There's also a brochure that the Funeral Service Commission puts out that each and every family is supposed to receive."

Even if you're new to an area, there are still ways to research the funeral home you're doing business with.

"They can check with the Better Business Bureau. They can give you reports if there has been anything filed against the funeral homes. One thing they can also check is families that have been served by the funeral homes in the past to see if everything was acceptable and done in a professional manner."

Carroway said families should fully investigate the funeral home they're using. Many reputable companies are part of their local chamber of commerce and are very active in the community.

If a cremation is ordered, families can go to the extreme and make sure their loved one was placed in the proper cremation container. They can also check to see if the cremation was in fact, done properly.

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