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BCI agents find dozens of cremated remains inside Akron church

Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 11:43 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 13, 2022 at 12:06 PM EST
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AKRON, Ohio (WOIO) - Agents with the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) executed a search warrant at an Akron church Wednesday and 19 News has learned they found “dozens and dozens” of cremated remains.

This happened at the Greater Faith Missionary Baptist Church in the 800 block of Buchtel Avenue.

A spokesperson for the Ohio Attorney General’s office said the search warrant was part of their ongoing investigation regarding Shawnte Hardin.

Hardin was the senior pastor at the church and is facing charges unrelated to the most recent search warrant for providing funeral services without a license.

Hardin’s attorney Richard Kerger, said the cremated remains found in the church were being stored, as a favor, by Hardin for a friend, Robert Tate, who at one time was a funeral director in the Toledo area but had lost his license and his funeral home.

“He had some number of cremains, I don’t know that Shawnte knew, but he called and asked him if it would be okay to store the cremains as he tried to find the families of the deceased,” Kerger said.

Tate, however, died, evidently before the families, in the Toledo area, had been notified that their loved ones remains had been moved to a church in Akron.

In October of 2021, Hardin was indicted by the Lucas County Grand Jury on 37 criminal charges; including, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, tampering with records, theft, abuse of a corpse, identify fraud, representation as a funeral director while unlicensed and passing bad checks.

Kerger admits that Hardin does not have a funeral directors license.

“His position is and the law supports this is, he doesn’t need one,” Kerger said.

Kerger claims that Hardin does not embalm or cremate bodies so he does not need a license.

Prosecutors obviously do not agree.

According to the Ohio Attorney General’s office, Hardin operated several businesses in Lucas, Cuyahoga, Summit and Franklin Counties since at least 2019.

The business names included Hussain Funeral Directors, Celebration of Life Memorial Chapels, Hardin Funeral Home, Inc., American Mortuary Services and Transportation, and Shawnte Davon Hardin Services, LLC.

Two bodies were recovered last fall from a building Hardin was using for funeral services in the 1600 block of E. Livingston Ave. in Columbus, said a spokesperson for the Ohio Attorney General’s office.

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