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Kansas man charged with performing illegal autopsies speaks out

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ALMA, Kan. (KSNW) – A Kansas man charged with illegally performing autopsies was back in Wabaunsee County Court Tuesday.

Shawn Parcells is accused of posing as a doctor and defrauding several families.

“National Autopsy Services, that’s what drew me to him because he was nationwide,” said Lacey Langford of Kansas City.

She says she paid Shawn Parcells $3,000 to look into her mother’s sudden death last Halloween, but weeks went by, and he never did the autopsy.

“There’s evidence that decomposes in my mom’s case every day. We may never know what happened to her, and that’s his fault,” said Langford.

“Haunts me every day,” said Tammy Spillman.

She tells a similar story about an autopsy she paid for after her father died.

“We hired him (Shawn) October 29, and I didn’t have no contact with him until the second week of January,” said Spillman.

But the case Shawn Parcells went to court for Tuesday involves several autopsies he did for Wabaunsee County from 2012 to 2015.

The attorney general’s office filed civil and criminal charges, including three counts each of theft and criminal desecration, saying Parcells is not a pathologist, as required by Kansas law, to do autopsies.

The state’s lawsuit says, “Defendant Parcells has no formal education, degree or license in the healing arts. He is essentially a self-taught pathology assistant.”

“My interest in this started when I was 14,” said Parcells, who sat down with KSN’s Stephanie Bergmann after the short court hearing Tuesday.

Parcells admits his experience comes from years of helping others do autopsies, but says the Wabaunsee County Coroner who hired him knew that.

“And it’s your stance that she knew all along that you were not a pathologist, you’re a pathology assistant?” asked Bergmann.

“Oh yea, she knew the whole time,” said Parcells, nodding.

He says doctors did review his reports for Wabaunsee County.

“I had pathologists working with me, but some of them were not even in state. Some were out-of-state consultants, which is perfectly legal,” said Parcells.

The state disagrees, and a temporary restraining order now bans Parcells from doing autopsies in Kansas.

That leaves his Topeka lab and all his unfinished cases in limbo.

“Maybe about 40,” estimated Parcells, but he said he couldn’t be sure without checking his records.

He allowed the KSN crew inside the lab to show how he’s preserved the body parts so someday he can finish the jobs he was paid for.

Parcells says he simply spread himself too thin and became backlogged.

“At no time did I ever set out to defraud or take people’s money,” said Parcells.

Tammy Spillman doesn’t buy it.

Her father’s body was cremated before she realized Parcells never did the autopsy he promised, and she has yet to get a refund.

As for Lacey Langford’s mother?

“She’s in cold storage, unembalmed, still waiting to give us our truth,” said Langford.

Langford did get her money back from Parcells, but must raise more money to pay for a private autopsy in Oklahoma City.

In the meantime, she is on a new mission.

“This isn’t about one case for me anymore. This is about justice for all, and I’m not going to stop until this man no longer plagues this country in this service.

The two Kansas City women are part of a Facebook group with others who say they too were cheated out of money by Shawn Parcells.

They claim there are more than 30 victims in over 20 states.

Tuesday’s court hearing ordered Parcells back before the judge on July 19.

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Aaron Nolan is a morning show co-host in Little Rock, Arkansas with Nexstar Media Group's KARK-TV. He has a passion for social media and makes it an important part of his daily routine. Click here to read Aaron's full bio.