Mobile County Sheriff's Deputies raided a church in Prichard last week. Deputies said the church is connected to a funeral home they're investigating on some disturbing claims.

Investigators said the allegations they're investigating are claims from residents that caskets were dug up and reused by Heritage Funeral Home.

Detectives said New Ship Ministries was raided because its Pastor, Bishop Joseph Bonner-Bey owns the building Heritage Funeral Home uses.

"I just want this cleared. I can't I can't get..Nobody will call me to bury a loved one if you telling them that I go to the graveyard and get caskets out the grave," said Bonner-Bey.

Bonner said deputies kicked in the front doors and searched the church with a K-9 last week. He said the K-9 sniffed out a casket and deputies searched through it. Captain Paul Burch with MCSO said they got a search warrant for Bonner's church as a part of their investigation.

"Once the deputies made entrance they discovered coffins, some appeared like scratches and dents but they were one or two that appeared that they have been used in the past...that was just appearance," Burch said.

The casket that was the object of the raid still sits in Bonner's church. There is hay under the lining of it and specs of dirt on the inside. Bonner said deputies mistook it for dirt from a grave. He said that casket has been used, but not for dead bodies. He said it's used as a display and a prop.

"That particular casket has been a casket that has been with the funeral home for 15 years since I've been open. Vigor has used that casket, the strikers have used it," Bonner explained.

Bonner said this has had an effect on his business as a funeral director. He said he has gotten several calls and messages and some families have moved services from the funeral home he currently works for.

"I got messages on Facebook from family members that are saying 'you better not mf'ing did this to my child. My person better be buried' and it's because they gave an indication that a casket had dirt that appeared to come from a cemetery," he added. "They need to correct this, this is wrong. Anybody can look at that casket and tell that that casket hasn't been in any dirt."

All content © 2019, WALA; Mobile, AL. (A Meredith Corporation Station). All Rights Reserved.


Toi Thornton is a Reporter. His Bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism comes from Dillard University in 2014 and his Master's degree in New Media Journalism from Full Sail University in 2016. He previously worked as the Fox anchor in Lafayette, LA.

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