AKRON, Ohio — Multiple investigative sources say the cremated remains of dozens of people were found in a vacant Akron church Tuesday morning after a search warrant was executed in connection with Shawnte Hardin, indicted last year on a slew of charges related to his alleged involvement with an illegal funeral business.
Officials with the BCI confirmed their agency executed a search warrant on Buchtel Avenue on Tuesday in connection with 41-year-old Shawnte Hardin, but would not provide further details as the investigation is ongoing.
Hardin was indicted in October 2021, according to the Ohio Attorney General's Office. Last year, Ohio BCI "removed two bodies from a building he was using for makeshift funeral services at 1615 E. Livingston Ave. in Columbus."
Authorities say Hardin has operated several businesses across multiple counties in Ohio since 2019. The names of those businesses include: Hussain Funeral Directors, Celebration of Life Memorial Chapels, Hardin Funeral Home, Inc., American Mortuary Services and Transportation, and Shawnte Davon Hardin Services, LLC. Those businesses were operated out of Lucas, Cuyahoga, Summit, and Franklin counties.
The 37 charges Hardin was indicted on include:
- One count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a first-degree felony.
- Three counts of tampering with records, third-degree felonies.
- One count of theft, a fourth-degree felony.
- Eight counts of abuse of a corpse, all fifth-degree felonies.
- Five counts of failure to file taxes, all fifth-degree felonies.
- Five counts of passing bad checks, all fifth-degree felonies.
- Two counts of identity fraud, both fifth-degree felonies.
- Two counts of telecommunications fraud, both fifth-degree felonies.
- Six counts of representation as a funeral director while unlicensed, two unclassified felonies and four unclassified misdemeanors.
- Single counts of fifth-degree felony criminal tools and unauthorized use of a vehicle.
- One count of operating an unlicensed funeral home, an unclassified felony.
- One count of failure to refrigerate a human body, an unclassified misdemeanor.
Heather Al Husaini told News 5 she wasn't suprised to learn the cremated human remains were found at the church that Hardin used to help coordinate her mother's funeral in the April of 2019. Police said Hardin was charged with taking hundreds from Heather's family for a headstone that was never produced, and charged with writing a bad $1,800 check to the Mogadore cemetery.
“He didn’t provide the headstone as of now or return any of the money for the headstone,” Al Husaini said. “He probably didn’t think the cemetery was going to act on that bad check as quickly as they did."
“He seemed legit, he seemed kind, when you first meet him he seemed like a very nice guy. And then when the story about him today we’re like, why do we get that gut feeling that she’s not buried.”
“As far as the families involved with the human remains, my heart goes out to them, cause I know what they’re going through, because we’re going through the same. Hopefully we can find closure at some point.”
Download the News 5 Cleveland app now for more stories from us, plus alerts on major news, the latest weather forecast, traffic information and much more. Download now on your Apple device here, and your Android device here.