FORT WORTH — “I’m just not apologizing to your family; I’m apologizing to every family,” said a woman identified by others as Rachel Johnson, the wife of one of the owners of Johnson Family Mortuary.
They were tense and emotional moments as she made that apology to the family of Victoria Vasquez Wednesday.
“I am sorry. I am sorry. I’m sorry for all the families that have been affected,” the woman said outside the Vasquez' home in Arlington.
But the tears and the apologies were not enough for the Vasquez family. Victoria, the matriarch of the family, is one of the eight female corpses discovered unattended inside the Johnson Family Mortuary in Fort Worth on Tuesday.
Two of those bodies were stillborn infants, according to the medical examiner’s office, which released the identities of five of the bodies on Wednesday:
- Chewe Mwangilwa, 42
- Patricia Baptiste, 90
- Victoria Vasquez, 53
- Helen Washington Jones, 70
- Karen Pearl Jones, 60
The names of two infants and a 60-year-old woman are still unknown to the public.
Vazquez' granddaughter, Elizabeth Vasquez, did not mince words about her feelings for the Johnson family. “They deserve to be locked away in a dark room the way they left those bodies,” she said. “That’s exactly what they deserve.”
The Vasquez family wants owners Dondre and Derrick Johnson to pay.
“They don’t deserve 15 minutes of fame; they deserve 15 minutes of shame,” she said.
So far, Fort Worth police have not charged anyone in this bizarre and upsetting discovery, but News 8 has learned the state already had begun an investigation into the funeral home's operations.
Wednesday night, Dondre Johnson was arrested and booked into the Tarrant County Jail on an unrelated charge of "contempt of court."
The Johnson family was also set to be part of a reality show on Lifetime, but the network released this statement:
"The program featuring the Johnson Family Mortuary has not and will not air on Lifetime. The allegations are deeply troubling and our thoughts and prayers go to the families affected by this situation."
Another woman, Yvonne Stewart, came to the mortuary on Wednesday after being informed her 70-year-old aunt, Helen Jones, was among the recovered remains.
"April, that is when we had her service," said Stewart. She said Jones' body was removed from the funeral home wearing the same thing she had on during the service.
Rachel Johnson, Dondre's wife, blames the landlord for blowing this all out of proportion and calling police when he found bodies inside the mortuary. The family has said that’s where dead bodies tend to be.
But the Vasquez family doesn’t buy that explanation. They’ve been waiting weeks for the remains of Victoria Vasquez. Her daughter Maria said she just wants her mother to “be cremated; to be at peace; to be home with us.”