Everyone wants a death with dignity. That rightfully includes not taking photos of their dead bodies unless photos are necessary as part of a police or accident investigation. Certainly, no one wants complete strangers gazing at their dead bodies.
A nursing assistant at a Leesburg, Pennsylvania nursing home has been charged with abuse of corpses after she allegedly photographed several residents after their deaths. Not only is Stephanie R. Thomas, 28, accused of taking such photos at the Berks Heim Nursing and Rehabilitation (“BHNR”) facility, but she sent the pictures to friends – and coworkers.
Her Ex-Boyfriend Liked It
Thomas was suspended from her job in late September after the BHNR director of nursing received an anonymous complaint about her activities. The anonymous letter included screenshots showing that the photos were sent from Thomas’ cellphone.
When a law enforcement officer later spoke with Thomas at her home, she claimed she did not know why she was suspended from her job. After the officer then informed her of the letter, he asked to look at her phone, and she gave him the PIN number.
Thomas told the police she took the photos because her ex-boyfriend liked this kind of thing, as per the criminal complaint. She admitted to authorities that taking such photos was “a mistake.”
Her phone, which was seized as part of the investigation, had photos downloaded by the county’s forensic unit. The phone had pictures of various dead animals on it, along with the deceased humans.
The pictures included several animal skulls of different species – including a dog – decapitated deer heads, and an embalmed shark. There was also a photo of Thomas standing alongside deer antlers and bones.
On November 6, Thomas was charged with three counts of corpse abuse, a second-degree misdemeanor, for which she faces up to two years in prison if convicted. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for December 3.
A Bloody Discharge
Why Thomas took such photos, other than to please an ex, is unclear. Witnesses say she is death-obsessed. One witness told police they were shown a photo of a dead resident with a bloody discharge coming from the face, a picture Thomas purportedly took because she thought it was “cool.”
Police found three photos of dead residents on Thomas’ phone, all apparently taken on the day of their deaths at BHNR. The late residents ranged in age from 82 to 94.
Not surprisingly, the families of the deceased whose photos were taken are disgusted by Thomas’ actions. These photos were taken without permission, and family members expressed outrage that such incidents took place at the BHNR.
To learn more, visit our nursing home neglect and abuse and Pennsylvania state information page. Ready to see if you have a case? Contact us by email [hidden email], by phone at 833.201.1555 or contact us online.