State board inspects funeral homes annually

Monday, August 4, 2008 | 11:02 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Warren Funeral Chapel should have been inspected at least once a year by the State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors.

Funeral establishments, funeral directors and embalmers are all licensed by the board, a unit of the state's Division of Professional Registration.

Becky Dunn, the board's executive director, said the board tries to regularly inspect each of the state's nearly 700 funeral establishments "at least once a year."

The chapel's owners, Harold Warren Sr. and Harold Warren Jr., agreed to close Warren Funeral Chapel for 15 days after facing a lawsuit filed by Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon. The lawsuit states that the Warrens kept several bodies in unsanitary and illegal conditions, including having a bag of organs from various people, using a casket for more than one person and storing an unembalmed, unrefrigerated body for more than 10 months.

It also states that during a July 15 inspection, the embalming table was "covered with blood and not covered," and the instruments were neither cleaned nor disinfected.

Though inspection reports are not available to the public, the board did provide a blank report form to the Missourian last week, which lists several legal criteria that inspectors are required to verify.

Some of the things inspectors check are:

• Embalming tables are clean and covered when they're not being used.

• Bodies are embalmed, placed in a sealed casket or refrigerated within 24 hours of death.

• Embalming instruments are properly disinfected and stored.

• Directors' and embalmers' licenses are publicly displayed.


Missourian reporter Roseann Moring contributed to this report.


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