Sherman Police have arrested the owner of a local funeral service for two counts of abuse of a corpse.

Sherman Police have arrested the owner of a local funeral service for two counts of abuse of a corpse.


Travis Mitchell, 27, who operates Serenity Chapel Funeral Services in Sherman, was arrested Friday after police found two corpses inside the business. One had been deceased for approximately two months, police said in a statement. Neither of the corpses were "being stored in what would be deemed by a reasonable person as an appropriate manner," the statement said. Authorities went on to say the bodies, which have since been transported to Waldo Funeral Home’s cold storage facility, are not those of local individuals.


Law enforcement also found during their investigation that Mitchell "is not and never has been licensed as a funeral director by the State Commission," the statement said. Mitchell had been falsely representing himself as a funeral director and had been embalming corpses at the business — both of these acts are illegal.


The investigation was prompted when Mitchell failed to pay his rental payments. The building’s landlord changed the locks on the business, and during that process learned that there were corpses inside.


The bodies will remain at Waldo Funeral Home until the families of the decedents or law enforcement instructs the funeral home otherwise, said Waldo Funeral Home Vice President Joel Bedgood. The bodies had been embalmed, Bedgood said, but "embalming has its limitations." Bedgood said there are many ways a funeral home can handle remains, but that Waldo Funeral Home would have likely kept the bodies in question refrigerated.


This arrest is not Mitchell’s first brush with such a situation. In February, CBS 11 reported that Mitchell had subcontracted work from Dondre Johnson. Johnson and his wife, Rachel Hardy Johnson, were each arrested earlier this year on seven counts of abuse of a corpse and one count of theft.


The couple owned and operated Johnson Family Mortuary in Fort Worth, along with Dondre Johnson’s twin brother. Similar to Mitchell’s case, the Johnsons failed to pay rent and the business’s landlord ordered them to vacate the site of the business, according to a report from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Inside, the landlord found bodies; all but one of which, the article said, showed "signs of advanced decomposition."


The Johnsons’ theft charge came from accepting payments from customers for funerals, but then never delivering the service.


In February, Mitchell told the Herald Democrat that he had no affiliation with the Johnson family. On an undercover video from CBS 11, however, Mitchell said that he subcontracted the Johnsons.


Sherman Police are still investigating the incident, and said in their statement that "other charges (against Mitchell) will be forthcoming."


Efforts Saturday to determine whether Mitchell has retained an attorney were unsuccessful.