We tracked down a family member of one of the deceased and he told us his aunt died years ago. Her body was cremated but then apparently her remains just sat at a funeral home for Stafford police to find abandoned.
It was a tip from the Texas Funeral Service Commission that led Stafford police in March to the chapel of what was once the Rylan C. Scott Funeral Home. Inside, next to the abandoned pews were two boxes with the remains of 15 people.
"This is a very unusual case," Stafford Police Department's Raphael Virata said.
Virata says they retrieved the boxes, stored them in their evidence room and went to work. The ashes were well labeled so they were able to connect eight sets with family but seven remain unclaimed. That's how police hope the public can help.
"We just want to make sure that these remains are given back to the family," Virata said.
Detectives are requesting assistance in locating family members of the following deceased persons:
Bobby J. Jones
Raynor Wyatt (child)
"That's my auntie, my mama's sister," Richard Vanderbull said.
We found Johnson's sister and nephew at their home in north Houston. Vanderbull says his aunt passed away 10 years ago. His family likely chose the funeral home because Rylan Scott once lived next door with his mother and stepfather.
But no one answered at the Scott house Monday night. Vanderbull was surprised to be re-visiting his aunt's death all these years later.
"Disrespectful, yes, it's very disrespectful, but I wouldn't think Rylan would do nothing like that," he said.
According to the Texas Funeral Service Commission, the funeral home had a half-dozen violations before its license was eventually canceled last September, and Scott, we're told by police, then vacated the strip center. Scott has been indicted on two felony theft charges for selling plots he didn't own, two felony theft charges for selling the cremation and not returning the remains to the families, as well as a felony charge of tampering with a government document. Scott also faces an additional misdemeanor theft charge. More charges are possible.
Stafford police say he doesn't face charges related to these ashes being left behind.
Meanwhile, the current owners of the building say they're just about to open a new funeral home there, but had no knowledge of what happened under the previous ownership.
Family members or anyone with information is requested to contact the Stafford Police Department at 281-208-6991.