In 1989, a funeral director named Bobby Wilks was caught committing a set of crimes that are so disturbing they're almost unimaginable. Wilks would sell burial vaults, or cement structures that are meant to protect caskets, to grieving families and then bury the bodies without the vault. He carried out this scheme multiple times, and at some point his scheme changed from grand larceny to uninhibited desecration of a corpse. Crimes committed by funeral directors are some of the most heinous and painful crimes to think about: these are people who are meant to take care of loved ones when they pass on, and when they betray our trust it creates an abscess in grieving souls that can never be fixed.
The funeral home crimes of Bobby Wilks are not dissimilar to the crimes of grave robbers — people who steal dead bodies. Wilks would bury people without caskets, fill their caskets with trash, or just plain old dump them in a shallow grave. Even after he was arrested, Wilks continued his pattern of deviance in prison, even molesting children.
How could anyone allow their loved one to be buried with a pile of trash? Bobby Wilks was very good at convincing people that the last thing they would want to do is watch the lowering of the casket into the ground.
After selling the family on the idea of a burial vault, a concrete structure that keeps the casket from sinking, he would play the respectful funeral director and insist that a family's last memory of their loved one shouldn't be of seeing them lowered into the ground. Once when they were gone he would remove the remove the vault, and if the family was lucky, just bury the deceased in their coffin and re-sell the vault.
Bobby Wilks wasn't just overcharging people for burial vaults that he didn't use: sometimes he wouldn't even bury a body in a coffin. There seems to be no rhyme or reason for whom he decided to just dump in shallow hole, but often he would be careless and just toss a body without even placing it in a coffin.
One grave that was exhumed showed the complete lack of empathy that Wilks had for the families who had hired him. When police dug up the plot they found that a coffin had been buried sideways and that the dead's body parts had spilled out.
One of the most bizarrely utilitarian things that Wilks did with the bodies that he was meant to bury was turn them into his own private garbage dump. Once Wilks was caught police began to exhume the bodies of people he'd recently buried and they found that many of the caskets held the recently departed along with pieces of rubbish like apple cores and dog food cans.
Mary Masterson, who found soft drink bottles in the casket of her mother told UPI: "I could very easily have him killed. All it would take is one phone call. She's not a garbage disposal."
After years of working alongside of Wilks, his coworkers began to suspect that something was off with how he worked. Mortician Al Jessie of Robertson County described the funeral home run by Wilks as a "shotgun, happy-go-lucky operation." That doesn't really sound like something you want in a funeral home.
Jessie noted to the Tennessee Funeral Board that he once saw Wilks move a body in the back of his Volkswagen bus because "the weather was too bad" to use a hearse.