A pastor in Ohio without a funeral license is being investigated by authorities after the remains of 89 people were found stored in boxes and bags at his abandoned church in Akron.
According to the Daily Mail, 41-year-old Shawnte Hardin, the pastor of the abandoned Greater Faith Missionary Baptist Church, was charged in September with 44 counts after two bodies were recovered from a building he was using for funeral services in Columbus.
At the time, Hardin was charged with racketeering, abuse of a corpse, tampering with records and identity fraud.
On January 11, Investigators from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation seized Hardin's abandoned church after a woman found the remains in it.
Richard Kerger, Hardin’s attorney, said on Thursday (January 20) that a former funeral director asked Hardin in 2017 to store the ashes of people whose families had not claimed them.
“There was no compensation for him,” Kerger said of Hardin, according to the Daily Mail. “He was just doing a service for someone who needed it.”
It isn’t clear if authorities will upgrade the charges Hardin faces after the new discovery of the remains. In October, he was taken into custody to Lucas County Jail in northwest Ohio. He doesn’t appear to have been released on bail at this time.