Michigan family sues, is among hundreds across the country to not receive autopsy before loved one cremated

A Wayne County family is filing a civil lawsuit against a Kansas man, his autopsy company, and a Brownstown Twp. funeral home after a man was cremated before a cause of death was determined, which prevented the family from getting compensated for the diseases suspected to have been responsible for his death.

The family of Richard Wahl retained Ven Johnson Law to represent them in the case. According to the law firm, Wahl is believed to have died from mesothelioma, an asbestos-related form of cancer.

His family wanted proof and contracted Shawn Parcells, the owner of Kansas-based National Autopsy Services to conduct a complete autopsy done by a licensed pathologist. 

According to Johnson, Parcells does not have a medical education but worked as a pathology assistant in Missouri for seven years before opening National Autopsy Services to provide private autopsy services. Johnson Law said he charged an upfront fee of $3,000 plus expenses for a full pathological study and cause of death diagnosis.

But Johnson Law said Parcells never did an autopsy and had Wahl's body transported to Molnar Funeral Home in Brownstown Township where he was cremated.

Johnson Law filed suit against Parcells, the company, and the funeral home in Wayne County on December 14 to seek monetary damages against all three.

"Not only is this a blatant act of neglect, and preying on those who are grieving, Parcells has left our client, and hundreds of others, without medical proof as to the cause of death of their loved ones," said attorney Sam Pietsch, of Ven Johnson Law. "The Wahls lost Richard and now have no chance of any financial compensation from a potential mesothelioma diagnosis."

Parcells has been the subject of multiple investigations since 2014, when he first was contacted by the family of Michael Brown who was shot and killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri. He admitted to FOX4KC that he did not have a certification as a pathology assistant but said he was qualified for the position.

A county medical examiner refuted Parcells' version of the training, which Parcells said lasted a year, and told FOX4KC that he was misrepresenting his qualifications at the time.

In March 2019, Parcells was banned by the Kansas Attorney General from performing autopsies as a case was pending against him. 

This past November, the US Attorney's Office in Kansas issued a wire fraud indictment against him to recover more than $1 million in fees paid to him by more than 375 victims who never received pathology.

The Wahls were among those victims.

If convicted of the federal crimes, Parcells could get 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 per count.