Funeral Home Cited for Improper Body Storage

One contractor who has done work for the chapel said that was common practice

By Phil Rogers
|  Monday, Feb 20, 2012  |  Updated 9:03 PM CDT
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State records show mortician Harry Joseph Carter, the owner of Carter Funeral Chapel, has faced numerous citations.  He was suspended and fined in April of 1999 for practicing on a non-renewed license. Carter got his license back in October 2001, but the state records indicate he lost it again in August of 2006 for failure to pay state income taxes. In October of 2008 his license was indefinitely suspended again, and he was fined $6,000, due to

State records show mortician Harry Joseph Carter, the owner of Carter Funeral Chapel, has faced numerous citations. He was suspended and fined in April of 1999 for practicing on a non-renewed license. Carter got his license back in October 2001, but the state records indicate he lost it again in August of 2006 for failure to pay state income taxes. In October of 2008 his license was indefinitely suspended again, and he was fined $6,000, due to "violations of regulations, untrustworthiness, embalming without consent, and unprofessional conduct."

For much of the day Monday, police and city inspectors were on the scene at a South Side funeral home, which this morning was found with no heat or electricity.

A city official who declined to give his name said the Carter Funeral Chapel at 2100 East 75th Street had been without power since October. He said he personally saw nine bodies inside, two in the funeral home's garage.

One contractor who has done work for the chapel said that was common practice.

"There is no cooling system whatsoever to keep bodies cold," said Brian Johnson.  "In the wintertime, the coldest place is the garage."

Johnson said in the summer he saw the funeral home attempt to keep bodies cold with ice.

Investigators were originally called to the scene early Monday, on a complaint of a suspicious car outside the funeral home.  Upon arrival they found the rear door ajar. Once inside, they found three employees, but made the discovery that the building had no power.

Chicago police said the owners of the Carter chapel were being cited for "failure to provide adequate shelter, protection, care, and disposition of deceased human remains." Also, a "failure to furnish necessary facilities and equipment."

State records showed that mortician Harry Joseph Carter has faced numerous citations.  He was suspended and fined in April of 1999 for practicing on a non renewed license.  Carter got his license back in October 2001, but the state records indicate he lost it again in August of 2006 for failure to pay state income taxes. 

In October of 2008 his license was indefinitely suspended again, and he was fined $6,000, due to "violations of regulations, untrustworthiness, embalming without consent, and unprofessional conduct."

As news of the investigation spread Monday evening, a few gathered to inquire about their loved ones. Among them: Anthony Townsel, who said his mother had been cremated by Carter three weeks ago. Townsel learned from a police sergeant that his mother's body is still in the building.

"They have the audacity to keep all those bodies in the back. What about the individuals? And their families?" Townsel said, adding that he plans to make arrangement for his mother's body to be moved to another chapel. 

For at least one more night, however, her body will remain in the unheated, powerless building.

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