Last week, a grand jury ordered up 24 true bills of indictment against the former owner of Sylva's Moody Funeral Home.
The grand jury's ruling comes after years of court rulings and investigations into Reginald Moody Jr., 49, who was initially arrested on Dec. 18.
Sylva Police Department Detective Daniel Peoples led 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. Further investigation uncovered evidence to support 24 addition bills of indictment, with each of the charges against Moody, alleging that he obtained property by false pretenses. Moody, of Dills Cove Road, Sylva, was arrested on Jan. 23, the day after the jury's ruling, and was released the same day after posting a $38,000 secure bond. Moody previously owned and operated Moody Funeral Home.
According to documents on file with Jackson County's Clerk of Court's office, the bills of indictment allege Moody tried to obtain:
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 an Indianabased casket company who claimed that they were not paid for coffins which Moody 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 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.
In 2012, law enforcement in Sylva began receiving information about people who had paid for services such as headstones and other funeral arrangements, but had not received anything in return.
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.
The Sylva Police Department is continuing to investigate Moody and the case remains open. Anyone with information or questions call (828)586-2916.