Authorities claim self-taught autopsy assistant Shawn Parcells scammed families

UPPER DARBY, Pa. (WPVI) -- Authorities in the Philadelphia area are investigating a Kansas man for allegedly ripping off customers during one of their most vulnerable moments: the death of a loved one.

Shawn Parcells is accused of taking money for autopsies he allegedly didn't perform nor is qualified to do.

Parcells first entered the national spotlight when he assisted in the private autopsy of Michael Brown, the young man killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri.

Upper Darby resident Janine Murphy said she hired Parcells to do a private autopsy after her husband's unexpected death.

"I really wanted to know what happened in those final minutes," Murphy said.

Murphy said she was connected by her funeral home to National Forensic Autopsy and Toxicology Services, owned by Parcells.

Its website claims to be an international company.

Murphy said Parcells called her but referred to himself as "Professor Lynne."

"He came off as very fatherly, and very sympathetic," Murphy added.

Murphy also said she paid $3,000 for Parcells to fly to Philadelphia to perform the autopsy by January 31.

But then she said the excuses started.

"First, there was an ice storm. Secondly, he was in court. He just didn't show," Murphy said.

In March, the Kansas Attorney General banned Parcells and his affiliated companies from doing business in that state.

Authorities have accused him of being a self-taught pathology assistant, performing autopsies without the presence of a licensed and qualified pathologist, and misleading consumers about his qualifications.

He's also criminally charged with desecrating bodies.

Our investigation also revealed the Upper Darby Police Department is investigating, as well.

"I call this guy a scumbag scam artist because he is taking advantage of a woman and family who is in distress," said Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood.

Parcell and his attorney agreed to an exclusive phone interview with Action News.

In it, he admitted he didn't show up for the Murphy autopsy. He blamed weather for his no-show, and also revealed he is having financial problems.

"We got shut down with the AG's office here in Kansas, so obviously we ran into some financial difficulties, but we have every intention of paying her back," Parcells said.

Parcells also denied wrongdoing and claimed he's following common practices in the industry.

Action News asked, "Do you think you misled any of your clients out there?"

"Uh...no...because when people asked who I was, or for my name, I would give it to them," Parcells responded.

Parcells is due in court in Kansas on April 19. He said he will reimburse Murphy within the next month.
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