Family sues coroner, Macon funeral home over son’s cremation

awomack@macon.comFebruary 21, 2014 

It’s been two years since police found 42-year-old Kevin Wallace dead inside his Reynolds Drive home.

Although authorities ruled his death a suicide, his family wonders if his death may have been the result of foul play.

Wallace’s parents filed a lawsuit this week alleging they were coerced into agreeing to the cremation of their son. With no body, no one could examine it further.

The lawsuit names Bentley and Sons Funeral Home and Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones, both in his individual and official capacity.

Jones said he stands by the 2012 ruling that Wallace committed suicide.

When contacted Friday, Calvin Bentley, the owner of the Montpelier Avenue funeral home, said he hadn’t seen a copy of the lawsuit.

“I know I didn’t do that,” Bentley said of the coercion claim. “I don’t do nobody like that.”

Macon police records show that officers went to Wallace’s house twice after neighbors contacted them.

On the first visit, on Feb. 16, 2012, no one answered the door. All the doors and windows were locked, and there was no way to see inside, according to an incident report.

An officer returned Feb. 20 and smelled a foul odor. The doors and windows were still locked. Firefighters broke a window and a door. Police found Wallace dead, shot in the head. A pistol was beside him.

Police looked for a suicide note but didn’t find one, according to a report.

Jones said Wallace’s body was badly decomposed.

Police interviewed neighbors, who said they became concerned after seeing Wallace outside waving a gun around, then not seeing him for several days.

Wallace’s parents, Karl and Maureen Wallace of Port St. Lucie, Fla., contend in the lawsuit that they told the funeral home and Jones that they wanted to take their son’s body home to Florida for burial. They traveled to Macon, where they and another son began investigating the death, not believing that he would commit suicide, according to the complaint filed Thursday in Bibb County Superior Court.

The Wallaces allege that the funeral home exercised “undue influence,” forcing them to agree to have their son cremated.

“The funeral home negligently or intentionally deceived the plaintiffs, convincing them that their son could not be transported to Florida for funeral services and burial,” according to the court filing.

The Wallaces allegedly told workers that they wanted to be present when their son’s body was moved and cremated.

On Feb. 23, 2012, the Wallaces went to the funeral home to witness the cremation, but found that the body had already been sent for cremation, according to the lawsuit.

The Wallaces allege that the funeral home “was negligent in the handling” of the body and that the business has tried to collect a $1,545 bill.

The lawsuit contends that Jones and the funeral home “conspired” to have the body cremated “so that no further examination of the body could occur as to the cause or manner of death.”

The family has filed a complaint against Jones with the Georgia Coroners Association and against the funeral home with the Georgia State Board of Funeral Service.

They also wrote letters to state and federal prosecutors requesting an investigation into Wallace’s death, saying that private investigators uncovered new evidence.

To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.

The Telegraph is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service