Decomposing bodies found inside Northside mortuary after funeral director left business behind, report says

The funeral director at the center of an investigation involving accusations of stealing, mishandling remains and abandoning a Northside mortuary was moved to the Duval County jail after his Friday arrest in Orange County.

Elliott Graham, 49, was wanted and accused of stealing, giving families the wrong ashes and abandoning a mortuary with bodies inside.

Investigators were scouring the Marion Graham Mortuaries on Gandy Street for days as they searched the premises. It was unclear what investigators found, but there was enough evidence for the Department of Financial Services to obtain an arrest warrant.

Graham was arrested on Feb. 2.

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According to an arrest report obtained by News4JAX, on Jan. 30, investigators discovered three bodies in various stages of decomposition found in cadaver bags in the funeral home. Investigators said the bodies were not stored in a non-refrigerated or non-air-conditioned facility for an extended time.

The report said the bags were infested with bugs.

Nairobia Durden said her family received an unexpected call from state investigators who told them that their grandmother’s body was one of the three bodies found in the mortuary.

“While we are relieved that Elliot has been captured and is facing charges, the damage to my family’s sense of closure and peace can’t be repaired. My grandmother deserved dignity and respect, and the fact that she was subjected to such negligence and deception is truly heartbreaking,” Nairobia said on Thursday. “This situation has left us to deal with a whirlwind of emotions, ranging from disbelief to anger to sadness. The violation of trust and damage of the final memories we had of my granny is simply unfathomable. No family should ever have to endure such a horrific betrayal during their time of mourning.”

Some rooms in the funeral home were in disarray, leading investigators to believe Graham was living at the home.

Investigators repeatedly tried to contact Graham, but the report said, he kept putting them off, stating that he was “going through personal matters and unavailable.”

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The report said investigators believed Graham had no intentions of returning to the funeral home and that he “abandoned the decedents without regard to dignity or respect.”

Several Jacksonville families have spoken to News4JAX about how they trusted Graham to take care of their loved ones but experienced a painful event during a time of mourning.

Graham faces charges including grand theft and improper preservation of a body. He is being held on a $100,000 bond.

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