‘How inhumane can someone be?:’ Jacksonville funeral director accused of mishandling human remains

State investigators are looking for a Jacksonville funeral director, accused of stealing people’s money, doling out fake remains, and abandoning his funeral home.

Action News Jax told you Wednesday the Florida Department of Financial Services (DFS) secured an arrest warrant for Elliot Maurice Graham, Funeral Director of Marion Graham Mortuaries. He is facing multiple charges including one felony count of Grand Theft and one misdemeanor count of Improper Preservation of a Human Body.

Several families have reached out to Action News Jax, stating they had alarming issues with the mortuary.

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“My dad was a giver,” Taslesa Ware said. She was the only daughter to Winston Ware.

He worked for the City of Jacksonville as a superintendent for streets and drainage. Ware passed away in November of 2022. His daughter said Marion Graham Mortuaries was in charge of his funeral arrangements.

From the start, there were a slew of issues. Documents were lost. Her father’s clothes were misplaced, and she said the funeral home had an awful smell.

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“It just smelled like bodies,” Ware said. “She [her family member] was able to go in and actually see my father once they claimed they had him ready. She came back, and she just broke down in tears and said no you cannot see him like that.”

Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal, Jimmy Patronis, said in a statement, “families are entrusting funeral directors to treat their loved ones with respect and dignity. These allegations indicate that this alleged criminal did the opposite.”

The family of Oma Mae Brown Jackson filed a complaint with the state in January, which lead to this investigation.

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Jackson passed away in September, but after the viewing, the family could not get in touch with Graham to get her remains. They had opted for a cremation.

After months of not hearing back from the funeral director, Jackson’s husband, Johnnie, decided to go to the mortuary himself.

“Johnnie [her husband] stopped and said where’s my wife’s remains?” Mae Jackson, Johnnie’s sister, explained. “At that point he [Graham] went inside. Stayed inside for 45 minutes. Never allowed him to go into the building, so of course at that point Johnnie started feeling suspicious.”

Related Story: Arrest warrant issued for Jacksonville funeral home director accused of mishandling human remains

He was given a box, and he was told it was his wife’s remains. However, the family felt skeptical. They decided to file a complaint with the state.

Investigators later found Oma Mae Brown Jackson’s un-cremated body inside the mortuary.

“How inhumane can someone be you talking to someone who just lost their wife and you gonna give them something that you know is not her remains?” Mae Jackson said.

The families hope is to get justice for their family.

As for Ware, she said she’s trying to honor her father’s legacy.

“Right now I’m just trying to follow in his footsteps,” Ware said. “And continue to be a giver.”

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The state investigation remains open and ongoing and Elliot Maurice Graham is still at large. The mortuary grounds is still considered an active crime scene.

Unless a DFS representative contacts you directly, there is no reason to believe that you do not have the cremated remains of your loved one.

Individuals who obtained Pre-Need Funeral contracts through Marion Graham Mortuaries are encouraged to file a claim with the Pre-need Funeral Contract Consumer Protection Trust Fund (CPTF).

First Coast Crime Stoppers will pay a cash reward of up to $3,000 for an arrest and you will remain anonymous. If you have any information about these crimes or any person(s) involved, you are urged to call First Coast Crime Stoppers 1-866-845-TIPS (8477) or submit a Web Tip.

WANTED: Elliot Maurice Graham
WANTED: Elliot Maurice Graham

For more information on the CPTF and how to file a claim, click here.

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