ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The arrest of Funeral Director Richard Fuqua, of Abilene Funeral Home, was arrested Tuesday. He was taken into custody by the Taylor County Sheriff’s Department, charged with the alleged theft of more than $25,000 in funeral funds from an elderly widow.
Since KTAB/KRBC’s initial report, multiple clients of Fuqua’s has come forth, expressing their gratitude that they weren’t alone an unfortunate situation.
“He hurts alot of people. There’s no reason for the families to have to suffer more after they’ve lost a loved one,” said former client, Chrystal Holman.
Holman had to bury her mother in 2019. That service, arranged through Fuqua, was two weeks before her mothers actually passed.
“I was trying to do the best things I could for my mother,” Holman explained. “It looked like that I had just went to some yahoo that- they didn’t even care what they were doing.”
Holman claimed that Fuqua fumbled the service. She said the Abilene Funeral Home team was at least an hour late to the service, and her mother’s casket was locked in the hearse. Holman also said Fuqua failed to provide an obituary or pallbearers- a service she said they had agreed upon beforehand.
“And they want me to get my family to carry it,” Holman described. “I said, ‘no, I paid for pallbearers. We’re not going to do that.’ He and the girl [unnamed Abilene Funeral Home employee] go to get her out and they drop Momma on the ground.”
Holman’s testimony, among others, were signs of a funeral home in distress- signs that did not go unnoticed by other Big Country funeral directors.
“As we watched Abilene Funeral Home slowly unravel over the years, we knew things weren’t going well up there,” said Owner/Director of Fry-Smith Funeral Home, Matt Smith.
Fuqua’s foremost issue; being allegations of theft. Smith said those funds likely came from pre-arranged funeral contracts.
“According to all news sources, he took the money from the lady, didn’t fund the pre-arrangement contract, but put the money into the general checking fund, the operational fund for the funeral home,” Smith said.
With that, any amount of money paid up front would never have been deposited with a reputable third party, as is normal according to Smith.
“And so when the time came to exercise that policy there was no money there.” added Smith.
Anyone in fear for their pre-arranged contracts should sit down with a trusted funeral director, Smith said. That way, you may have each aspect of the contract verified.
“In just a few phone calls we can find out pretty quickly, ‘is that contract good or is that contract bad?'” Smith advised.