Mary McLendon, the former director of McLendon Funeral Home, was convicted of fraud on Wednesday. Wadesboro police and Anson County Sheriff’s deputies discovered two corpses inside McLendon’s former funeral home during a search for a missing body on Wednesday.
The search began when McLendon was sentenced to 6-17 months in prison on Wednesday for obtaining property by false pretenses. According to investigators, McLendon failed to take a body to the crematorium but accepted payment for the funeral costs from family members. That corpse was never found, so on Wednesday, the judge ordered McLendon to disclose the body’s location.
McLendon directed the police to a room in the funeral home, where two corpses were found. The first was wrapped in clothes in a casket and another was lying on a table. On Thursday, one body was identified by police as being Marshall Lee Allen, who died in November 2011, according to the Charlotte Observer. “The first body that we originally found was tied into the trial we had this week, where she was charged with fraud for taking money for a funeral and not completing it,” Sheriff Tommy Allen said. “The daughter had been after her for several years looking for her father’s ashes.” Eventually, the daughter, Kimberly Nicole Wall, approached the WPD, who did an investigation and worked with the district attorney.
The judge issued an order for the police to retrieve the body. “When they got inside, they saw how things were, and they decided to hold back and get a search warrant to search the whole building,” Allen said.
This is not the first time mistreated corpses have been discovered in McLendon’s funeral home. In 2010, deputies served McLendon with an eviction notice after the bank foreclosed on her property, said Allen. At that time, the deputies discovered three bodies, some several months old, that were supposed to be cremated. The deputies had Leavitt’s Funeral Home take the bodies to a crematorium in the Pinehurst area, Allen said.
Allen said the responsibility of following up on the discovery fell on the WPD. “[The sheriff’s department] didn’t do a criminal investigation, just an eviction,” he said. “It would’ve been up to the city to do a criminal investigation. Why they didn’t do one, I don’t know.”
Allen said that the two newly-discovered corpses were not in the building at that time. “I’m satisfied that when we left there there were no other bodies,” he said.
After the discovery of the original bodies in 2010, the funeral home was shut down as a result of the eviction. McLendon was able to open her business again until the state had a hearing about the bodies and revoked her license in 2012, shutting her down again, Allen said. During the second time she was open was when she failed to dispose of the two new bodies, Allen said.
McLendon is being held at the N.C. Correctional Institution for Women in Raleigh, according to Allen. Meanwhile, deputies and the State Bureau of Investigation are assisting the WPD in a search of McLendon’s family farm on Clemmons Road outside the Lilesville city limits to see if any other corpses are on the property. Allen said the investigation will likely take several days.
The funeral home was located on North Greene Street in Wadesboro.