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Was Wilmington Funeral Service sold because of legislation?

Ken Little

Q. Is the recent sale of Wilmington Funeral Service the result of Rep. Justice’s new bill prohibiting convicted felons from operation a funeral home?

A. Rep. Carolyn Justice said in a July 21 email answer to questions that Gov. Bev Perdue signed the bill, but could how say how it affects the status of the Wilmington Mortuary Service.

The owner of the business, Doug Bevell, told the StarNews in early July he was “in negotiations” regarding the possible sale of the business, but did not elaborate.

“At this time, the Board of Funeral Service has not been notified of any change of ownership at Wilmington Funeral Home,” Peter M. Burke, executive director of the N.C. Board of Funeral Service, said in a July 25 email.

Justice sponsored the bill, which prohibits the N.C. Board of Funeral Service from issuing or renewing a license to anyone “convicted of a sexual offense against a minor.”

A StarNews investigation in 2011 found Bevell signed an agreement with the state’s medical examiner’s office to transport dead bodies despite provisions at the time banning felons from performing the service.

Bevell pleaded guilty in Virginia in 1994 to three felonies – aggravated sexual battery with a 14-year-old boy, producing child pornography and possession of cocaine – and a misdemeanor, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, according to an earlier StarNews article.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner decided to eliminate the requirement that individuals cannot be convicted felons after the StarNews investigation was published. The new law overturns that decision.

“Mr. Bevell would have never received a license if the medical examiner had not arbitrarily changed the law once the StarNews discovered she authorized the issuance of a license in violation of the law (as it was written at that time), which banned felons from performing the service,” Justice wrote in a July 13 email.

“All this bill does it put the law back to where it was before the chief medical examiner (a bureaucrat) took it upon herself to single-handily change the law,” Justice wrote.


What happens to homeless or indigent people when they die and have no relatives?

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