Home Muslim religion Cremated remains of 89 people found in vacant Ohio church

Cremated remains of 89 people found in vacant Ohio church

0

Authorities found the remains of 89 people in a vacant church in Akron, Ohio during a search related to an investigation into allegedly fraudulent funeral services.

Two urban explorers discovered boxes of cremated remains in the building when they noticed the church’s open doors and believed it to be vacant, according to a search warrant affidavit.

One of the explorers told authorities that some of the boxes had cremation dates dating back to 2010, according to the affidavit.

Children’s remains were among those found in the church, NBC affiliate WKYC of Akron reported.

Officers from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office of Criminal Investigations conducted a search Tuesday and seized the remains.

State Special Agent Alvin E. Clar said in the affidavit that items found in the search may be evidence of a violation of Ohio’s abuse of a child’s law. corpse.

The church is linked to Shawnte Hardin, 41, who allegedly conducted funeral services from the building in Akron, prosecutors said.

The court filing also alleged that Hardin was tied to a Columbus business called Islamic Cemetery. He would have been in possession of cremated remains from this place despite the prohibition of this practice by the Muslim religion, he added.

Officials did not say whether Hardin had been charged in connection with the recent findings at the church.

A Lucas County grand jury indicted Hardin in October on allegations ranging from fraud to operating an unlicensed funeral home.

Seven additional death service charges were added last month, bringing the number of charges Hardin faces to 44, according to a spokesman for Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.

The case spans several Ohio counties where Hardin allegedly performed funeral-related work.

The October indictment included eight counts of corpse abuse. The Bureau of Criminal Investigations had removed two bodies from a building in Columbus that Hardin allegedly used for “makeshift” funeral services, according to an attorney general’s statement.

He pleaded not guilty to all counts.

Hardin’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The attorney, Richard Kerger, told The Associated Press that a former funeral director asked Hardin in 2017 to store the ashes described as unclaimed.

“There’s nothing wrong with helping people get rid of the remains of their loved ones,” Kerger said.

Kerger said the church in Akron was not abandoned; his client was unable to verify because he is under house arrest in Columbus awaiting trial.

Hardin’s name appears on a sign outside the church that describes him as a reverend, according to the court filing. The building had also been used as a residence, state officials said.

The Associated Press contributed.