Dozens of cremated remains found inside Ohio church
AKRON, Ohio (WOIO/Gray News) - Agents with the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation reported they executed a search warrant at an Akron church Wednesday and found “dozens and dozens” of cremated remains.
A spokesperson for the Ohio Attorney General’s office said the search warrant at the Greater Faith Missionary Baptist Church was part of their ongoing investigation regarding Shawnte Hardin, WOIO reported.
Hardin was the senior pastor at the church and is facing charges unrelated to the most recent search warrant for providing funeral services without a license.
Hardin’s attorney Richard Kerger, said the cremated remains found in the church were being stored as a favor by Hardin for a friend, Robert Tate, who at one time was a funeral director in the Toledo area but had lost his license and his funeral home.
“He had some number of cremains, I don’t know that Shawnte knew, but he called and asked him if it would be OK to store the cremains as he tried to find the families of the deceased,” Kerger said.
Tate, however, died, evidently before the families, in the Toledo area, had been notified that their loved ones remains had been moved to a church in Akron.
In October, Hardin was indicted by the Lucas County Grand Jury on 37 criminal charges, including engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, tampering with records, theft, abuse of a corpse, identify fraud, representation as a funeral director while unlicensed and passing bad checks.
Kerger admitted that Hardin does not have a funeral directors license.
“His position is, and the law supports this, is he doesn’t need one,” Kerger said.
Kerger claimed that Hardin does not embalm or cremate bodies so he does not need a license.
Prosecutors obviously do not agree.
According to the Ohio Attorney General’s office, Hardin operated several businesses in Lucas, Cuyahoga, Summit and Franklin Counties since at least 2019.
Two bodies were recovered last fall from a building Hardin was using for funeral services in Columbus, said a spokesperson for the Ohio Attorney General’s office.
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