DUMFRIES, Va. (FOX 5 DC) - FOX 5 continues to hear from people across D.C., Maryland and Virginia who claim a funeral home owner took advantage of them after the death of a loved one.
Shaun Reid has been criminally indicted in Prince George’s County and accused of theft and forging death records after investigators say he intentionally gave two families, one from Maryland and one from D.C., the wrong cremated remains. Reid was not licensed as a funeral director in either location.
Court filings obtained by FOX 5 indicate that Reid was behind on getting the body of a Prince George’s County woman cremated in early 2017 and instead gave that woman’s family the ashes of a D.C. woman named LaWanda Williams.
FOX 5 first did a story with Williams’ cousin earlier this year when he learned of the mix-up. Both families were able to obtain the correct ashes of their loved one with the help of Maryland State Police.
More recently, Shinorfae Bailey, of Woodbridge, Virginia, contacted FOX 5 with concerns about how Reid handled her brother’s funeral over the summer. She and her sister say they were horrified when they saw the condition of their brother’s body.
“The smell was so overwhelming that the family couldn’t sit in the front row,” Bailey said.
She said her brother was bloated, several shades darker and his face appeared to be sweating.
She also said she saw Reid spraying something on the body claiming to be “freshening it up.”
“My gut feeling tells me that my brother was not embalmed,” Bailey said. “[Reid] was using this chemical to camouflage the smell of rotting flesh.”
Yolanda Green, of Southeast D.C., contacted FOX 5 to say that after hiring Reid more than a year and a half ago when her son passed away, he still hasn’t provided the urn or death certificate she paid for. Green says it took at least a month to get her son’s ashes and that Reid brought them to her in a cardboard box.
“He should have never took my money if he wasn’t licensed to do something,” Green said in tears. “I could have went elsewhere. Then to bring my son in such a disrespectful way.”
Despite the complaints and criminal charges, Reid continues to run a funeral home in Dumfries, Virginia.
It’s because of this loophole: Reid can own a funeral home as long as he employs a full-time, licensed funeral director. Records show her name is Kenya Stewart and she does have an active license. But multiple people who used Reid have told FOX 5 that they never met or spoke to Stewart and Reid has purported himself as funeral director. Yet, Stewart is the one signing death certificates.
“Signed by Kenya Stewart,” said Bailey, looking at her brother’s death certificate. “And I don’t know if this is a male or female. I never met this person, never spoke to this person.”
The Virginia Department of Health Professions regulates funeral homes. The agency won’t confirm whether it is investigating Reid. A spokesperson told FOX 5 in an email Wednesday, “There is no new information since your inquiry of three weeks ago.”
Families are in disbelief that Reid is still allowed to operate.
“I want him shut down permanently because he can’t run around keep doing this to people,” said Green.
“I am just so upset with the whole process,” Bailey said. “He totally let my family down. So unprofessional. And even to this day, I can still smell that smell.”
FOX 5 has not been able to reach Reid or Stewart. Reid’s attorney has said he has no comment.
Reid will be in court Friday for a motions hearing.
The state’s attorney’s office says he could face a maximum of 15 years behind bars if convicted on all counts.
Contact FOX 5 Reporter Lindsay Watts with additional information on this story at Lindsay.Watts@foxtv.com