Arrest warrant issued for Jacksonville funeral home director accused of mishandling human remains

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — State investigators are searching a Jacksonville funeral home looking for evidence of mishandled remains, and money.

The Department of Financial Services has an arrest warrant out for a Jacksonville funeral home director Elliot Maurice Graham who works at Marion Graham Mortuaries on the Northside.


Two families who spoke off-camera said that they had bad experiences with the funeral home. One of them said it’s no surprise to see there’s an investigation underway.

[DOWNLOAD: Free Action News Jax app for alerts as news breaks]

The second family said they were the ones who filed the complaint.

Action News Jax Law and Safety expert Dale Carson has decades of law enforcement experience and said this is an unusual crime, but it does happen.

“From an investigative perspective, people don’t like to assume that businesses are going to take advantage of them,” Carson said.

Read: Officials: Number of decaying bodies found at Colorado funeral home rises to 189

On Wednesday, DFS secured an arrest warrant for Graham after issuing a search warrant.

He is the funeral director of Marion Graham Mortuaries on Grandy Street in the Lake Forest Hills neighborhood.

DFS opened an investigation after the department received complaints for his “mishandling of cremated human remains.”

Carson said a crime like this is undetectable.

“Because in these kinds of circumstances, it’s likely that the family won’t know whether or not they’ve received improper remains, particularly if it’s in a cremates state.”

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, Jimmy Patronis, said Graham is accused of stealing money, giving out fake remains, and abandoning the funeral home.

Action News Jax discovered three separate lawsuits filed against Marion Graham Mortuaries.

  • Ford Motor Credit Company filed a complaint against the mortuary stating it defaulted due to non-payment on a 2013 Lincoln Navigator. The credit company said the balance due is $8,199.72, together with interest.
  • A second lawsuit was filed by Batesville Casket Company alleging Marion Graham Mortuaries failed to pay $18,751.41 for goods and services and $2,252.93 in interest.
  • The final lawsuit states that Restlawn Cemeteries and Cremation Gardens entered an agreement to purchase a burial plot and compensation of $2,595 was to be paid to the plaintiff. Marion Graham Mortuaries refused to pay. A judge closed this case ruling in favor of the plaintiff for failing to answer the complaint.

In an emailed statement, Patronis said in part, “We are going to do everything possible to put this guy behind bars for a very long time. Nothing is more important than family -- and as our loved ones pass away -- it’s always a difficult situation, and families are entrusting funeral directors to treat their loved ones with respect and dignity.”

DFS said investigators found the remains of three human bodies and worked to reunite them with their loved ones. The department is treating this as an active crime scene.

Read: IP address links Jacksonville man to multiple online threats made against TikTok personality

Officials said the investigation continues and if there are others accused of being involved, they will also be held accountable.

Graham is facing one felony of grand theft and one misdemeanor count of improper preservation of a human body.

[SIGN UP: Action News Jax Daily Headlines Newsletter]

“If you don’t have to properly discharge your duties by cremating the remains, or properly preparing the body for burial... if you don’t do those things, you’re saving money,” Carson said. “And so the less service you perform, the more profit you obtain, and that’s what the grand theft charge is all about.”

Carson said if Graham is sentenced, he could face up to 15 years in custody.

As for the family members, they said they plan to release a statement soon.

Click here to download the free Action News Jax news and weather apps, click here to download the Action News Jax Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Action News Jax live.