Crime & Courts

Police ID 1 of 2 decomposed bodies found inside closed Wadesboro funeral home

Medical officials have identified one of two decomposed bodies discovered Wednesday in a Wadesboro funeral home that had been shut down by authorities two years ago, Wadesboro police Chief Thedis Spencer said Thursday.

One of the bodies was Marshall Lee Allen, who was born in 1949. Allen’s family has been notified, and his daughter told reporters Allen died in November 2011.

Authorities did not say where Allen was from.

Police had gone to the funeral home after its former director, Mary McLendon, was found guilty of obtaining property by false pretenses in an Anson County court. The charge stemmed from a complaint that she had not taken Allen’s body to a crematorium after being paid by his family to do so, police said.

McLendon was sentenced Wednesday to 6 to 17 months in prison, court officials said. She is being held at the N.C. Correctional Institution for Women in Raleigh, according to the Anson County Sheriff’s Office.

According to several broadcast reports, McLendon was ordered by the judge to disclose the location of the body that was to have been cremated. The judge told authorities to retrieve Allen’s body from the funeral home and contact his daughter, Kimberly Nicole Wall, for appropriate disposition of the body.

The police search focused on a room in the rear of the funeral home. People wearing masks and insulated suits went in and out of the building throughout the afternoon.

After entering the funeral home to get Allen’s body, Spencer said police found another body, which has not been identified yet. The building has since been condemned.

This isn’t the first time the funeral home has drawn scrutiny from the authorities.

Three mishandled bodies were found at the funeral home in 2012 during eviction proceedings. One of them was Richard Bennett, who had died five months before his body was found, authorities said at the time.

In an interview with the Observer in 2012, McLendon said, “I’ve been painted as a person that has done wrong.” She added that nobody has “told the truth about how I conduct business,” but did not elaborate.

The N.C. Board of Funeral Services pulled McLendon’s license to practice in March 2012 after the bodies were discovered.

Staff writer Elizabeth Leland contributed.