A funeral home director in Florida has been arrested after he allegedly had three bodies in his home and handed out cremains that family members said looked like “chalk or ground kitty litter,” authorities said.
One of those bodies reportedly belonged to Pauline Durden, whose family told WJXT they thought they had laid her ashes to rest six months ago.
“It was heartbreaking,” Nairobia Durden told the station. “Just the journey of everything, it’s been tough trying to heal. And just when you think you get to a point where it’s like, it’s starting to feel a little bit better. It’s the wound that’s been reopened.”
Detectives were testing the ashes to determine who — or what — they are, officials said.
Other families members reportedly had unusual interactions with the director of the funeral home, 59-year-old Elliott Maurice Graham. Graham took over the mortuary after his father passed away in 2018.
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Another family told WJXT that they suspect their cousin was embalmed improperly — if at all — for their funeral last March.
They cousin recalled the body had “an unforgettable smell" that was like "the smell of a decomposing body.”
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Another family suspected something was wrong when Graham refused to let them have an open casket when their father died in November 2022. The family said the burial occurred days after the funeral because Graham didn’t contact the cemetery to dig the grave, alleging Graham told them their dad “was not viewable” and they “had to have a closed casket.”
He was charged with grand theft and improper handling of human remains. He was expected to be transferred to Jacksonville.
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