OHIO authorities investigated an Akron church this week, finding the cremated remains of at least 90 people, with names of the deceased scrawled on boxes and biohazard bags.
The cremated remains were discovered at the Greater Faith Missionary Baptist Church, the church of Shawnte Hardin, a pastor who was indicted last year for mishandling bodies.
News5ClevelandCremated remains were recovered from the Greater Faith Missionary Baptist Church[/caption]
News5ClevelandShawnte Hardin was a pastor at the church where bodies were discovered[/caption]
Hardin was indicted last year on over three dozen counts, most of them felonies, related to running funeral services across Ohio without a license.
However, Hardin’s attorney said that the newly-discovered remains aren’t connected to the pastor’s unauthorized funeral operations.
The remains are thought to be connected to Robert Tate, a funeral director who was charged with “abusing corpses” after authorities discovered 11 corpses in his garage.
Attorney Richard Kerger said Hardin was simply “holding them” for his “acquaintance,” Robert Tate.
“He was holding them for an acquaintance and didn’t think much about that and I’m sure he didn’t think they would be there six years later,” Kerger told WBNS.
In 2015, authorities discovered 11 bodies in “various states of decay” inside Tate’s funeral home, including the body of an infant.
Many were stored in a garage under damp conditions.
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Tate was sentenced to five years of probation, ordered to surrender his embalming and funeral director licenses, and close down his business, Tate Funeral Services.
Tate died in December of 2021 at the age of 65.
Hardin’s attorney maintains that the pastor did not break Ohio state law by holding the remains in the church.
“A lot of families don’t come in to pick up the cremains,” Kerger said.
“These cremated cremains were in the church, in a safe, secure and sacred location in the church,” he continued.
“Under Ohio law, it’s allowed.”
The Ohio Attorney General’s office has released a list of the people whose remains were found in the church.