AP NEWS

Judge appoints state agency to take control of human remains

November 27, 2019 GMT

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Shawnee County judge has appointed a state agency to take control of human remains stored by a Kansas man who is temporarily banned from conducting autopsies.

Attorney General Derek Schmidt said in a statement Tuesday that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment will conduct an inventory of the biological samples, believed to be human remains, that were stored by Shawn Parcells, a self-taught pathology assistant with no formal education.

The department will control the premises while the 37-year-old Parcells of Leawood faces criminal charges and a lawsuit, The Kansas City Star reported.

A judge temporarily banned Parcells and his companies in March from conducting autopsies, forensic pathology and tissue recovery until a lawsuit alleging violations of Kansas’ consumer protection and false claims acts were resolved.

The department will store the samples and release them to family members who request them, Schmidt said. Unclaimed or unidentified samples will be destroyed, he said.

Eric Kjorlie, the attorney representing Parcells, said Parcells did not oppose the appointment of a receiver to protect the samples, calling it proper because he was unable to rent and maintain the space, according to documents obtained by the newspaper.

The lawsuit, filed by the attorney general’s office, alleges Parcells contracted with Wabaunsee County to conduct coroner-ordered autopsies and failed to complete them in accordance with Kansas law. Parcells, who has no degree or license in the healing arts, allegedly conducted many of the autopsies without a pathologist and billed the county for at least 14 autopsies that weren’t performed.

Parcells was charged in Wabaunsee County District Court with three felony counts of theft and three misdemeanor counts of criminal desecration related to the autopsies. A preliminary hearing is set for next year.

In 2013, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that some medical examiners in Missouri questioned whether Parcells performed autopsies without a medical license, inflated his qualifications and listed doctors on reports who weren’t present for autopsies.