Funeral Director Faces Abuse of Corpse Charges for Conditions in Unlicensed Philadelphia Funeral Home

Police found three bodies inside an unlicensed funeral home in West Philadelphia Monday afternoon, according to investigators.

On Tuesday, the funeral directed was arrested and charged with three counts of abuse of a corpse, said Philadelphia Police.

State investigators received a tip reporting Hawkins Funeral Service on the 5300 block of Vine Street was operating illegally. Police responded to the building where they found three bodies. Investigators told NBC10 the bodies were not properly refrigerated with one of them embalmed in a coffin in an non-ventilated room and two of them decomposing. Investigators also discovered two unmarked, non-medical bags of human organs inside the building.

Investigators said the funeral director, Blair Hawkins, 52, tried to prevent an inspector from examining prep rooms.

Hawkins, the director of the funeral home is licensed, but the building, which is the former location of the Gaither and Kimble Funeral homes, is not, according to investigators.

"You have a responsibility to care for the dead as you are supposed to," said Philadelphia Police Lt. John Walker. "You shouldn't cut corners in situations like this where you're using a building that you clearly know has been out of business for some time." 

Hawkins, on Monday, told NBC10 the entire ordeal is a misunderstanding.

"The bodies, we have paperwork," Hawkins said. "They're gonna be cremated. They're authorized. We don't refrigerate bodies that are being cremated."

Investigators told NBC10 one of the bodies may not even belong to the funeral home. Hawkins insists, however, the bodies were properly taken care of.

"I have proper paperwork and authorizations," he said.

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