After years of court rulings and investigations, former Moody Funeral Home employee Reginald Moody Jr., 49, was arrested on Dec. 18.
Detective Daniel Peoples has been leading the investigation and on Dec. 17, five arrest warrants were issued after evidence revealed that Moody had taken money from several victims under the false pretense that he would provide a service, when in fact he did not.
According to five warrants on file at the Jackson County Clerk of Court’s Office, Moody:
• Obtained $1,595 from Tina Conner on the condition he would provide a headstone for the grave of Wilda Allen.
• Obtained $2,495 from Shirley Pressley on the condition he would place a bronze monument on the grave of James Pressley.
• Obtained $195 from Lavonia Andrews on the condition he would add a date of death on the headstone of Carolyn Fish.
• Obtained $195 from Vicky Drotzur on the condition he would add a date of death to the headstone of Varnel Grant.
• Obtained $199 from Fred Agnew on the condition he would add a date of death to the headstone of his father.
The Moody family had operated the Sylva funeral home since 1922, when it was opened by P.E. Moody, great-grandfather of Reginald Moody Jr.
The trouble with Moody Funeral Home in Sylva is not new, and dates back to 2007 when the funeral home was sued by a casket company who claimed that they were not paid for coffins which Moody's ordered. The court ruled in favor of the casket company and ordered Moody Funeral Home to pay around $200,000 in 2008, which they failed to do. The business claimed to have no assets nor income to pay the court ruling, and in 2010, additional legal action was taken.
The problems continued as paperwork and financial records for Moody Funeral Home seemed to be non-existent. In December of 2011, the funeral home was forced to close its doors after a judge threatened to hold Moody in contempt of court for hindering the investigation, forcing Moody to resign from his post.
Earlier this year, law enforcement in Sylva began receiving information about people who had payed for services such as headstones and other funeral arrangements, but had not received anything from the funeral home.
In most instances, people who had pre-paid for funeral services and family members who had paid for tombstones for their lost loved ones, saw nothing for their money and received no answers from Moody or anyone else in the establishment as to why or what to expect in the future.
In addition to not providing basic services to customers, Moody has also failed to perform basic maintenance on his two cemeteries, namely Fairview Memorial Gardens in Sylva and Swain Memorial Park in Bryson City.
After losing its state license and being forced to close, authorities found it nearly impossible to locate the company's assets in order to provide the families affected by Moody's actions with some sort of compensation.
According to court documents stemming from the 2007 investigation, Moody opened a personal bank account and has been shuffling money from Moody's into the account to keep it hidden from investigators.
Any assets found may not go directly to the families waiting for tombstones for their lost loved ones, as Moody has outstanding debts owed to the casket company as well as a significant debt owed due to back federal and state taxes.
the investigation is still on-going, more charges are expected to be filed at a later date. Moody was held at the Jackson County Detention Center on a $10,000 secure bond, but made bond Tuesday.