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Wayne County family files lawsuit claiming loved one was cremated before autopsy

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Posted at 10:32 AM, Dec 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-29 10:32:32-05

DETROIT (WXYZ) — The family of deceased Wayne County resident Richard Wahl has filed a lawsuit in the Wayne County Circuit Court against the owner of an autopsy company and a funeral home in Brownstown Township.

According to the family's attorney, Mr. Wahl was suspected to have died from mesothelioma, an asbestos-related form of cancer, and his family wanted proof. Relatives contracted with Shawn Parcells, owner of Topeka, Kansas-based National Autopsy Services, to have a licensed pathologist perform a complete autopsy on Mr. Wahl to determine the exact cause of death.

It is alleged that Parcells did not perform an autopsy and had Mr. Wahl’s body transported to Molnar Funeral Home, in Brownstown Township, where his cremation took place, the family's attorney stated in a release.

Parcells, of Leawood, Kansas, has no formal medical education, but worked as a pathology assistant for Missouri’s Jackson County Medical Examiner’s Office from 1996 to 2003. He then opened National Autopsy Services, in Topeka, Kansas, where he provided private autopsy services, charging an upfront fee of $3,000, plus expenses, for a full pathological study and cause of death diagnosis.

According to the attorney, an investigation revealed that Parcells is under indictment for falsely leading the Wahl family, and hundreds of others, to believe that they would receive autopsy reports performed by licensed pathologists.

On Nov. 18, 2020, the U.S. Attorney’s Office-Kansas District, issued a wire fraud indictment against Parcells seeking to recover more than $1 million in fees paid to Parcells by more than 375 victims, who never received pathology, including the Wahls.

If convicted, Parcells could face up to 20 years in prison, in addition to a fine up to $250,000 for each count.

The week of Dec. 14, 2020, Ven Johnson Law, PLC, filed a civil suit in Wayne County Circuit Court seeking monetary damages against Parcells, his company, and the Molnar Funeral Home.

“Not only is this a blatant act of neglect, and preying on those who are grieving, Parcells has left our client, and hundreds of others, without medical proof as to the cause of death of their loved ones,” said attorney Sam Pietsch, of Ven Johnson Law. “The Wahls lost Richard and now have no chance of any financial compensation from a potential mesothelioma diagnosis.”

Read the full legal complaint below:

Complaint and JD - TS[1] by WXYZ-TV Channel 7 Detroit on Scribd