Sherman Hemsley's Body Won't Be Dug From Grave, Court Says

Sherman Hemsley's Body Won't Be Dug From Grave, Court Says

Actor's half-brother loses legal battle to contest will.

Published November 18, 2014

Sherman Hemsley will rest in peace, a court ruled late last week. The Jeffersons star, who has been at the center of a morbid legal battle between his manager and his estranged half-brother, will remain buried in El Paso after a judge denied his half-brother's request to exhume his body and move him to Pennsylvania.

Hemsley died in July 2012 of lung cancer at the age of 74, but he was not buried for four months thanks to a dispute between the business manager he lived with and a long-lost half-brother, who each claimed the right to dispose of his remains. 

A month before he died, Hemsley executed a will and named "beloved partner" Flora Enchinton Bernal — his business manager and best friend — as the sole beneficiary of his estate. His half-brother and legal next of kin, Richard Thornton, however, disputed the will and asserted that Hemsley was not of sound mind when he signed it. As a result, Hemsley's burial was delayed by four months. He is also fighting Bernal for royalties from Hemsley's television career.

Now, a judge has ruled in favor of Bernal, at least as far as where Hemsley's burial is concerned, and says that the sitcom star's body cannot be dug up two years after his death and moved.

According to testimony, Hemsley and Thornton shared a father but had no relationship beyond common DNA. Thornton was reportedly born out of an extramarital affair their father, a Methodist minister, had with another woman.


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(Photo: CBS via Getty Images)

Written by Evelyn Diaz

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