A light illuminates an empty casket at Greenwich Village Funeral Home on November 20, 2008, in New York City.
Crystal Bonvillian, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
EAST STROUDSBURG, Pa.
A Pennsylvania funeral director is facing charges of abusing the corpses she was tasked with caring for after allegations surfaced that she was taking photos of her deceased clients to show to friends and family.
Angeliegha Stewart, 27, of East Stroudsburg, is charged with abuse of a corpse, criminal use of a communication facility (her cellphone), drug possession with the intent to deliver, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, disorderly conduct and harassment, court records show.
Stewart, a funeral director at Lanterman & Allen Funeral Home in East Stroudsburg, was arrested Friday. She was later released on her own recognizance.
The Pocono Record reported that investigators with the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office began looking into Stewart’s alleged actions in August, after receiving complaints that she was “flaunting” photos of the deceased. They executed a search warrant at the funeral home, where they found “alarming” photos on her cellphone.
They also found photos and correspondence on her phone that indicated she was selling marijuana, the Record reported.
WNEP in Moosic reported that the photos found on Stewart’s phone included one of a body with its organs removed. Another body photographed was covered in maggots.
Stewart, who goes by the nickname Angel, described her actions as a prank, the news station reported. Detectives said she admitted to taking the photos and showing them to people to “gross them out.”
Investigators are working to identify the people in the photos.
Area residents expressed horror over the allegations.
“My mother passed away some time ago, and to think that somebody’s actually taking pictures of a dead corpse and showing them to friends as a prank, I think that’s very insensitive,” Gordon Palmer, of East Stroudsburg, told WNEP.
The funeral home also issued a statement.
“We were disappointed to learn of the allegations, and we are taking them very seriously,” the statement read. “As this is an ongoing investigation, we are fully cooperating with authorities and are not able to comment further at this time.”
Stewart’s LinkedIn profile describes her as an intern in funeral services for the past five years. Prior to that, she worked as a night supervisor at Dunkin Donuts, her page said.