‘This place is horrific’: 10-week-old complaint details ‘filthy’ conditions at Centralia funeral home

‘This place is horrific’: 10-week-old complaint details ‘filthy’ conditions at Centralia funeral home

By BETH HUNDSDORFER 
Capitol News Illinois
news@capitolnewsillinois.com

The pictures that are said to depict the condition of the embalming room of the Moran Queen-Boggs Funeral Home in Centralia are shocking.

Eight photographs and one video taken late last year purported to show the conditions of the funeral home depict piles of dirty sheets, a dead rodent rotting in a stairway and water running from pipes in the embalming room.

Screenshots and videos contained in this story show leaky pipes, piles of trash and generally filthy conditions in what a source identified as the embalming room of the Moran Queen-Boggs Funeral Home in Centralia. The source who provided the video requested anonymity due to safety concerns. The funeral home’s director, Hugh Moran, would not confirm its authenticity. (Photos provided)

The person who took the photographs requested to remain anonymous for their safety but filed a complaint to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation in December. 

Capitol News Illinois obtained a copy of the complaint that alleged conditions were unhygienic throughout the funeral home, but especially in the embalming room.

“The embalming room was spraying water from pipes overhead with bottles, trash, fluids, sheets, clothes and things unrecognizable all over the room,” the complaint stated. “This place is horrific, looks like something from a scary, filthy freak show.”

More than 10 weeks after that complaint – and three days after a Capitol News Illinois reporter visited the funeral home and sent questions to IDFPR – funeral home director Hugh Moran said the agency conducted an inspection on Monday. IDFPR would not confirm that they had inspected the embalming room, citing confidentiality. Moran said Tuesday afternoon that he was still operating.

Moran asserted that complaints about his business were spurred by soured business deals, but he admitted the embalming room was “unkempt,” and he needed to bring in a dumpster to clean it up.

(Photo provided)

During a visit to the funeral home on Friday afternoon, the reporter met with Moran and his wife. The reception area was kept with no odor or visible rodents. But despite repeated requests, Moran denied the reporter entry to the basement of the funeral home where the prep area was located. 

Moran said that out of respect for the families he serves, he would only allow licensed embalmers in his preparation room.

“Last year, we were busy. A lot of things got out of hand for me. That’s my fault,” Moran said on Friday. “It needs to be cleaned up, but I am the only one here.”

A health crisis in September sent Moran to the hospital and a lengthy rehabilitation incapacitated him for months, he said. 

During that time, Mark Styninger, who operates a funeral home in nearby Nashville and is the former owner of Moran’s funeral home, helped Moran operate the business. Styninger said he never used Moran’s prep room but took the bodies to his funeral home in Nashville for preparation.

One afternoon as he was walking out of Moran’s funeral home after meeting with a family to make funeral arrangements, Styninger said he saw a dead rodent on the floor. Styninger, who is also the Washington County coroner, said he did not make a complaint to IDFPR but was distraught by the conditions he saw. 

“He does not need to be in business. This cannot be allowed to continue like this,” Styninger said.

A photo shows a dead rodent in what a source identified as a basement stairway at the Moran Queen-Boggs Funeral Home in Centralia outside of its embalming room. The source who provided the photo requested anonymity due to safety concerns. The funeral home’s director, Hugh Moran, would not confirm its authenticity. (Photo provided)

Moran has no prior discipline on his license, according to the IDFPR website. Styninger said Moran, who used to work for him, was a talented embalmer, but the condition of the funeral home speaks to the need for intervention. 

“This cannot be allowed to go on,” Styninger said. 

IDFPR is the regulatory and licensing agency for funeral home directors and embalmers, rather than the facilities where they operate. The agency does not regularly inspect funeral homes. 

“Under current regulations, IDFPR only inspects the preparation room inside funeral homes. They must be maintained with the proper equipment (including drainage, running water, electricity, and ventilation), along with supplies and instruments necessary to prepare and embalm the body. Preparation rooms must also be sanitary and available for inspection to determine compliance,” IDFPR spokesperson Chris Slaby wrote in response to questions sent on Friday morning.

(Photo provided)

Depending on the circumstances, IDFPR may be able to discipline Moran for professional incompetence, gross negligence or malpractice in the practice of funeral direction and embalming, including for poor hygiene conditions.

After he received a copy of the photographs provided to Capitol News Illinois, Moran declined to say whether they accurately depicted the condition in his funeral home. 

IDFPR would not elaborate either. 

“Complaints received and investigations undertaken by IDFPR are confidential, unless and until the Department files an enforcement action or publicly disciplines a licensee,” Slaby stated. 

(Photo provided)

This comes weeks after allegations that IDFPR failed to act for months against another Illinois funeral director in Carlinville after receiving a complaint alleging the director cared for remains in an “unacceptable and criminal nature” and had a decomposing body in his prep room.

The investigation into Albert August “Gus” Heinz resulted in more than a dozen lawsuits and several exhumations of misidentified remains, including five at Camp Butler National Cemetery. 

In October, Heinz agreed to surrender his license after Sangamon County Coroner Jim Allmon discovered decomposing corpses in his prep room. A subsequent investigation revealed that bodies had been cremated under the wrong names and families from coast to coast received the ashes of strangers instead of their loved ones. 

A criminal investigation by the Illinois State Police is ongoing. As of Wednesday, no charges had been filed against Heinz.

(Photo provided)

Michael Sharkey, counsel for the Illinois Funeral Directors Association, said Tuesday that his association was concerned about the allegations. He noted Moran was not a member of the association. 

“Decedents deserve better. Assuming the photographs that we were provided are authentic, we are saddened and angered that any individual in our beloved and noble profession would conduct themselves like this,” the association said in a statement.   

In Moran’s case, the December complaint went unanswered for more than 10 weeks. 

There have been at least six deaths handled by Moran in those two and a half months. The latest funeral is scheduled for Friday.

 

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to hundreds of print and broadcast outlets statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, along with major contributions from the Illinois Broadcasters Foundation and Southern Illinois Editorial Association.

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