Just days after a national announcement honoring Scarborough & Hargett Funeral Home Inc., the 100-year-old, renowned business could be under fire with state authorities and a local widow, whose husband’s body was allegedly allowed to decay at the funeral home.
Another unrelated complaint against the funeral home is also pending a hearing
on the matter, according to Steve Dirksen, an attorney for the North Carolina Board of Funeral Service. Records also show the funeral home, located at a temporary building at 923 Old Fayetteville St., has been on probation for the past three years because of violations found in 2007 with recordkeeping, documents that had not been filed on time, violations in accounting practices and with the business preparation room. As a result of the violations, Scarborough & Hargett paid a $7,000 civil penalty and agreed to submit to re-training and testing.
Meanwhile, family members say that the remains of Jonathan Kendall Hughes, who died July 15, were improperly handled at the funeral home. Delays had caused his body to decay, and the family removed the body from Scarborough & Hargett and was forced to have it cremated, said Lenwood Edwards, an in-law of Hughes who lives in Fayetteville and recently attended Hughes' memorial in Durham.
Hughes was a 48-year-old maintenance worker. He died from kidney failure, according to a Durham County death certificate. A container of his remains sat on a table beside a large portrait of the man, whose nickname was “Junior,” Edwards said.
“They had to do a picture because it was a cremation. That wasn’t’ the intent when [his wife] had the body taken to this first funeral home,” Edwards said. He added the situation was “very traumatic on a family that’s in grief.”
An attorney said to be representing Hughes’ wife, Robin, declined to comment on the case Thursday. J.C. “Skeepie” Scarborough III and wife Queen Scarborough are the owners of the business, and did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Reached by phone Thursday, a manager for Quality Cremation Service, where Hughes’s body was taken, said he would not comment on the state of the body when it arrived at their South Driver Street location. After the cremation, the final ceremony was held by Fisher Funeral Home, whose director also did not immediately return calls Thursday.
Dirksen, of the state funeral board, confirmed that it had taken disciplinary action against Scarborough & Hargett in 2005. Records of the history of complaints, board findings and disciplinary action were not immediately available Thursday afternoon.
Scarborough & Hargett moved to its temporary home on Old Fayetteville Street earlier this year from a long-standing location at the corner of Dillard and Roxboro streets downtown, where it had been displaced by the site of Durham’s new county courthouse. The funeral service’s new, permanent location at UDI Industrial Park off the Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway in southern Durham has not been completed.