Judge recommends Alamance funeral director lose license
Posted October 26, 2011
Raleigh, N.C. — An administrative judge recommended on Wednesday that an Alamance funeral home director accused of leaving a decomposing body in a hearse for nine days last year lose his license.
David B. Lawson arrived about 40 minutes late to his hearing at the Office of Administrative Hearings in Raleigh. He said he had gotten lost.
Lawson is accused of leaving the body of 37-year-old Linda Walton in a hearse behind his mortuary on Aug. 20, 2010.
Walton died of natural causes and was found in her Carrboro apartment on Aug. 11. Police called Lawson's mortuary to pick up the body after failing to find Walton's next of kin.
Lawson, a licensed funeral director for 34 years, said he had been waiting on police and had no choice but to keep her body in the hearse because he had no place else for it.
“I had to put it back out there. I had nowhere else to take it,” Lawson said during the hearing.
Lawson said he contacted the North Carolina Board of Funeral Service to determine what he should do with the body. He was waiting to secure permission from the local social services department to cremate the body.
He had tried embalming the body, he said, but it was badly decomposed.
Capt. Joel Booker with the Carrboro Police Department said officers also told Lawson on Aug. 16, 2010, that Walton's relatives had been notified.
Walton was cremated after Lawson got permission on Aug. 20, 2010 – the day police found her body in the hearse.
Another issue discussed at Wednesday’s hearing was pre-need funeral contracts. Some clients testified that they entered into such contracts with Lawson, then learned that he did not have a license to sell them and had difficultly getting their money back.
The judge said the issue of not having a pre-need license was the main reason why he recommended Lawson lose his license.
The final decision on Lawson’s license will be up to the state Board of Funeral Service.