BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - NewsChannel 7 spoke with one of two people who have been charged with several misdemeanors in the mishandling of remains in the Brock Home Town Funeral Home in Callaway.
Gregory Dunphy, who claims he is the acting funeral director, said he's only been working at the funeral home for the past three weeks.
During a Wednesday morning arraignment at the Bay County courthouse, Dunphy pleaded not guilty to six misdemeanor counts of mishandling remains and requested a public defender.
He told NewsChannel 7/Local 18 he felt he did the right thing addressing the problems at the funeral home and does not believe he should face the charges.
He said for the past three weeks he'd been working under funeral home manager, Felicia Boesch, who is facing ten misdemeanor charges.
While his funeral director's license is valid, is said he was not a registered employee of Brock's. He was, he said, getting paid but there was no timeline for his work with Brock's.
He said Boesch asked him to babysit the funeral home while she took care of a family emergency. Dunphy said he did not perform an embalming in the past few weeks.
He claims he had no control or entry to the refrigerated area or any cremation services, and he did not notice anything was wrong when he initially began working three weeks ago.
It's unclear through conversation with Dunphy exactly when remains began collecting outside the refrigeration room.
Dunphy said last Wednesday he spoke with Boesch about the remains not being moved into refrigeration.
He claims he wanted to give her a chance to do the cremations, clear the refrigeration room and provide him with supplies. He said she never did.
"A couple times well she said, 'I'll be in tonight, I'll do cremations and make those remains go in the proper temperature controlled area,'" he said. "And I have to rely on her as a person of integrity to live up to her word which obviously she did not."
He said he also called another local funeral home asking for assistance and supplies like body bags. In the meantime, Dunphy said he had no choice but to accept the clients Boesch sent to him. He said he is not a monster.
"I always acted in a fair and forward manner and ethically and morally I think I have those standards," he said. "I most certainly did not want to cause anyone any more mental anguish than they had, losing a loved one."
Dunphy claims he called the Bay County Sheriff's Office to report the situation. While officials said Dunphy was cooperative with officials when they arrived to the funeral home on Sunday, they claim he did not call their office.
They say a third party, whom Dunphy has asked for assistance, called a lieutenant in the sheriff's office over the weekend, who then contacted patrol.
Either way, Major Jimmy Stanford said the charges hold.
"These charges were appropriate because of the time that the bodies had been there and he hadn't done anything to try to rectify that," Stanford said. "So because of that time, even if he had have called it in, he would have been charged."
Stanford said while they're investigating, it is possible Dunphy and/or Boesch could face other charges including theft and fraud.
Dunphy believes the charges against Boesch are just. NewsChannel 7/Local 18 was not able to reach her for comment. We also checked in with the Funeral, Cemetery and Consumer Services with the state under Jeff Atwater's office. According to them, the funeral home has voluntarily surrendered their funeral home and cinerator licenses. They report the owners have begun to dismantle the business.
In the last five years, four complaints against Brock's have been filed to the state office. You can read them at the end of this article.
Right now, the medical examiner's office is holding the remains as courtesy and because they have the space. They're working with the families and other local funeral homes to lay the remaining clients to rest. It's possible some of the bodies found in the funeral home are indigents. If that is the case, the county pays for their arrangements.
ATN-25803 September 2015
Complaint was that cremation was not done in a timely manner; the family was treated poorly, and the refund was insufficient.
Response from licensee shows that there were delays in the cremation due to having issues with having a physician sign a death certificate.
Matter closed with no findings noted.
ATN-25341 July 2015
Complaint was based on a death certificate not being filed in a timely manner. After the complaint was investigated, the matter was closed with no findings noted.
ATN-25018 May 2015
Complaint filed by a neighbor of the family. The complaint was that the funeral establishment was slow in handling the matter, treated the family poorly, did not keep the family properly advised and the death certificate showed the wrong social security number.
ATN-17129 August 2011
Complaint that the funeral home had no microphones to sing with the service, that the funeral home was disorganized, that no written contract was offered, that the death certificate was not issued timely, and that the funeral home never returned calls. After the investigation, the complainant did not want to proceed further.
There were also the two citations for operating without a current license: one in 2009 and one in 2015.
The Division of Funeral, Cemetery and Consumer Services can assist consumers with questions or complaints regarding Brock’s Home Town Funeral Home. They can contact the division at 850-413-3039, or Toll Free at 800-323-2627.