AUSTIN, Texas – A former funeral home worker who pleaded no contest to hiding a baby's body in the pants of a man's corpse slated for cremation — apparently to avoid paying an extra $50 fee — faces the permanent loss of her funeral director's license.
The Texas Funeral Service Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to find that Stephanie Barkley engaged in unethical and unprofessional conduct.
"I believe this is absolutely the worst case I've seen in seven years," said Harry Whittington, chairman of the commission that regulates the funeral industry.
The commission also recommended fines of $41,500 for Barkley and $8,400 for her family's business, Barkley Mortuary of Crockett. The recommendations now go to a state administrative law judge for trial.
Barkley, 41, pleaded no contest in Harris County criminal court to abusing a corpse. She was sentenced in April to two years probation, community service and a fine of $300. She also was ordered to pay the baby's parents $200 in restitution and voluntarily gave up her funeral license for two years.
Barkley could not be reached for comment Tuesday by the Houston Chronicle. Her lawyer, Michael Laviage, said the criminal case was based on circumstantial evidence.
A commission investigator last year informed the baby's family, who live in Houston, of the incident. Commissioners ordered investigators to notify the family of the dead man.