In the final of a string of criminal cases that started after police searched Shannon Kent’s home’s basement in 2020, Kent—a former coroner for Lake County—was given a six-month prison sentence. In addition to serving as the elected Lake County Coroner since 2014, the 47-year-old Kent also owned a private funeral home and mortuary franchise at the time.
According to a news statement from the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, Judge Catherine Cheroutes stated that probation was not the proper sentence for Kent since he had become “entitled and arrogant” as a result of his positions. She then gave Kent a six-month jail sentence in Lake County. 2019 marked the beginning of Kent’s problems.
He was charged in March 2019 with employing his unqualified wife as a deputy coroner. According to an incident report obtained by CBS4, in October 2020, a mother whose infant died in December 2019 and was allegedly cremated by the Kent-Bailey Funeral Home told authorities at the Lake County Sheriff’s Office that she thought something wasn’t right with the child’s cremated remains.
They weighed a lot more than was anticipated. Denver experts examined the ashes and discovered anomalies there. There were metal fragments that may have come from jewelry. The findings revealed that the ashes she received may have been a mixture of those from an infant, another adult, and possibly an animal.
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On October 20, Lake County officers took the Kent family out of their house and searched the basement home office. According to Sheriff Reyes’ report, investigators found it difficult to maintain their balance in the basement’s office area. They waded through piles of paper that covered tables, spilled out of tilting filing cabinets, and overflowed from cardboard boxes on the ground.
They walked through pools of bodily fluids in other places as well, such as between stacks of discarded body bags and gloves, around the examining table with open chemical bottles, through the shelves of pharmaceuticals, and through the crematorium containers. Sheriff Reyes stated in the report, “I was starting to feel nauseous, weak, and light-headed.”
“I stopped looking.” The report states that although a search was eventually completed, the name of the mother or her child was never located in any documents until 2019. The state suspended Kent’s license to run two of his five mortuaries three days after the search. The Runyan Mortuary, Inc. in Buena Vista, the Bailey-Kent Funeral Home in Leadville, the Everett Family Funeral Home and Crematory (dba Kent Funeral Home) in Gypsum, the Hegmann Funeral Service, Inc.
(dba Hegmann-Kent) in Idaho Springs, and the Runyan-Kent Mortuary in Silverthorne all demanded his licenses be returned. He did so several weeks later. Authorities in Summit County then detained Kent and his wife, Staci, and filed charges against them for misconduct and abuse of a corpse in connection with how they handled the body of a truck driver who had died in an accident.
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The defense in the case successfully contended that despite the truck driver’s body being left in the Silverthorne funeral home for months on end, the Kents did their utmost to prepare it for shipment back to his family in Africa. Due to COVID-19 limitations, they were unable to ship the body. After the decision was made, Shannon Kent told CBS4 Mountain Newsroom Reporter Spencer Wilson, “We have maintained our honesty throughout all of this process and will continue to do so.”
Additionally, I want people to know that we are concerned about the pain of the family who was caught up in this situation. The criminal investigations against Kent were concluded on Thursday in Lake County, “According to a news release from Heidi McCollum, the 5th Judicial District Attorney, “although Shannon Kent’s criminal proceedings came to an end today, we understand that the parents of this tragedy are still dealing with an open wound.
The loss of their son, the sadness and suffering they have experienced, and Shannon Kent’s complete lack of respect and decency toward them are all too difficult to express in words.” The profession of coroner has three levels: coroner, medical examiner, and forensic pathologist. To become certified, each demands ever more advanced levels of training.
However, employees with the most fundamental training typically work as coroners at the first level in smaller, more rural locations when staffing is scarce. In certain communities, a coroner’s role is frequently held by individuals already working in the funeral industry or by those who are among the first responders already present during the preliminary phases of a death inquiry, such as firefighters and sheriff’s deputies.
You can get additional news by visiting the website lakecountyfloridanews.com.