Funeral home shuts down, leaves 2 bodies behind - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Funeral home shuts down, leaves 2 bodies behind

(Source: WMC Action News 5) (Source: WMC Action News 5)
MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) -

A Memphis funeral home shut its doors and left the bodies of two women inside.

A federal investigation has been launched against Hickory Hill Funeral Home.

The family of the second victim discovered inside the building said they paid for cremation and never received the ashes. They want something to be done to make sure nothing like this will happen again.

"It makes me feel bad,” Pearline Collins said. “It kind of still upsets me from when I heard it yesterday." 

Collins is a close friend of Katherine Hill, one of the two deceased women believed to be found inside Hickory Hill Funeral Home on Tuesday.

Collins, along with Hill’s family, thought she was cremated shortly after her funeral earlier this year. Now, they are searching for other vendors to finish the services.

"They didn't do their job, and they were supposed to do their job,” Collins said.

According to the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, there are no licensed personnel and no electricity inside the funeral home. The department said the last known licensed employee working there was Madeline Lyles, who officially resigned in February.

“That's the thing, obviously the families are being lied to,” Lyles said.

Lyles said she quit after working there for just three weeks because she discovered unethical practices going on.

“You have casket companies that are calling, you have the crematorium calling, you have all of these funeral providing vendors who we use that are calling that they've accumulated debt with, and they're not trying to settle it at all," Lyles said.

State and local authorities are still working to determine why and how long the bodies were left alone inside the funeral home.

"There's no compassion in the world now," Sheila Williams said.

Williams said Hickory Hill Funeral Home overcharged her insurance company when her 77-year-old husband died in 2014. She has the paperwork to back that claim up.

"Very upsetting after I had my husband pass and I was going through, you know, trials and tribulations with that," Williams said. "I didn't think I deserved that type of treatment."

She said the funeral home eventually reimbursed her hundreds of dollars after some wrangling.

"First they tried to give me the run around, but it's going to be hard to give me the run around, see, because I keep up with my business."

Williams is friends with Barbara Walker, whose daughter Gloria was one of the bodies found Thursday.

"It's like I'm in a horror story," Walker said.

Walker's daughter was supposed to be cremated in January.

"I don't see how anyone could have that less compassion for people," Williams said.

A real estate company has also filed a complaint against the funeral home for not paying rent.

Fortunately, a former city council member stepped up to take away some of the pain for Walker's family.

Brent Taylor, owner of Brentwood Funeral Services, agreed to perform her daughter's cremation for free.

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