Police: Funeral home worker shows off corpse pictures
EAST STROUDSBURG, Pa. (WOLF) -- A funeral director is facing charges and clients of the funeral home are angry.
Police say the East Stroudsburg woman took disturbing pictures of corpses in her care.
Now, the charges against the funeral director include 25 misdemeanor counts of abuse of corpse, involving photos that investigators say she took of a body and then showed to other people.
Police say she was also selling marijuana to make extra money, which they confirmed during a raid at her apartment above the funeral home on Friday morning.
One of the recent funerals here at Lanterman & Allen Funeral Home on Washington St. last month was that of Russell Cappolella, who was 46 years old.
His brother helped organize a viewing for him, with help from a funeral director, Angeliegha Stewart, 27.
"I chose Lanterman's because our family's always went to Lanterman's and she worked great with me," says client Martin Grose.
Grose was stunned to hear that Stewart is now facing charges like abuse of corpse, and drug possession at an apartment at the funeral home.
Investigators say she was flaunting photos of corpses to her friends and family that she took on her cell phone.
The criminal complaint says more than 20 photos in all were found, including some showing bodies being embalmed, others in caskets, and some with maggots.
Police say Stewart admitted some photos were to show to her colleague as a joke, and that she admitted to showing one gruesome photo to her ex-boyfriend to gross him out.
"If it was him, I apologized to him the other day and my fiancée apologized to him and said listen, I'm sorry if anything happened to you like that but I just hope it wasn't. I hope it wasn't," says Grose.
Grose has Cappolella's ashes and says he was told his brother had a heart attack in his apartment. He says Stewart helped him by going to court for his brother's workmen's comp money, since Cappolella had broken his leg in a fall on a Stroudsburg hotel/restaurant construction site.
"She did a great job. She did a really good job. God, I couldn't have asked for anything more than what she did. She went above and beyond," says Grose. "I said her name's not only Angel, she is an angel. I said she made everything happen, and we had a very good viewing for him."
Police say they searched Stewart's apartment and found marijuana, ammo, spent casings, cell phones, and drug paraphernalia including a digital scale. Many residents are shocked.
"You never have any of that kind of stuff around here. It's just a shame. If the Lantermans still owned it , that never would have happened," says area resident Dwight Fuller.
"I don't think I want somebody taking pictures of me if I'm dead," says area resident David Kober. "She made a mistake there, I think."
"That was stupid. I mean, I can't see anybody doing that. I pity the poor people that have to see those people, those pictures," says area resident John Aiello.
Grose wonders if Stewart took pictures of his brother.
"I don't want to know if she did or not," says Grose. "I would probably have to go out to the jail and say something to her, because she really let me down if she did."
Investigators say they're still looking into who is in the photos. Stewart was arraigned Friday and released on her own recognizance.
The funeral home owner, Dignity, says in a statement from spokesperson Jay Andrew that: "We were disappointed to learn of the allegations, and we are taking them very seriously. As this is an ongoing investigation, we are fully cooperating with authorities and are not able to comment further at this time."