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WREG investigation uncovers multiple complaints against embattled funeral home

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- On Thursday Memphis Police officers made a gruesome and disturbing discovery at the Hickory Hill Funeral home in the Fox Meadows neighborhood. According to the state, officers found two, female embalmed bodies at the abandoned business. Officers were able to track down the owner of the business, Terry Magee, who according to officers said he closed the business March 1. The state filed a complaint against Magee for abuse of a corpse and impersonating a licensed professional. Thursday night Memphis Police said they are investigating the case and charges against Magee could be filed.

However, WREG has been investigating the business for more than a month.  What officers found Thursday is a reflection of concerns we dug up and have spent the last month uncovering.

WREG first started investigating the business after viewers called saying they couldn't get death certificates.

Before the outside of the Hickory Hill Funeral Home was wrapped in crime scene tape, it looked like a wasteland.

We went two weeks ago during our investigation and found an MLGW past due notice was plastered on the door, discarded bottles, trash, and even a casket littered the outside.

Through our investigation we tracked down a former employee.

"It's too much you know? It's not right at all and this is not what I, as an individual, stand for," said Madeline Lyles.

Lyles was once a manager of the Hickory Hill Funeral Home.

She started as a freelance embalmer, but her passion for the job led her to become a manager.

But it didn't last long.

"It was a short tenure. It was three weeks for me."

She said she left in February of this year because she was disgusted by the way business was being handled.

We obtained numerous complaints against the business with the state.

What we uncovered was shocking.

A casket wholeseller, Pontotoc Box Company, said it was never paid for caskets and "Hickory Hill Funeral Home ran their bill up to over $10,000."

"I'm starting to get phone calls from casket companies. I'm starting to get phone calls from the crematorium basically saying,'well you can't purchase any more caskets because there's this balance due.'"

Lyles said she never dealt with the finances of the company--only families and sometimes dissatisfied ones.

"To stand there and have to represent wrong and there's nothing I could tell her but 'I'm sorry for the inconvenience. I'm sorry it's taking so long.'"

Another woman filed a complaint saying the funeral home was using her embalmer's license number without her consent.

She told the state, "I have never had any affiliation with Hickory Hill Funeral Home."

"That's your livelihood and for someone to just use it? Like what are you doing? "

Terry Magee is the owner of the funeral home.

Lyles said she has not talked to him since she left.

Another name listed in complaints is Dwight Crayton, another former manager.

Earlier this month the Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers prohibited him from performing funeral related services.

By phone Crayton told us he stopped working at Hickory Hill in early January.

Lyles said she just wants families to get answers.

"I'm sorry that it happened. I'm sorry all of us were involved and I'm sorry the families trusted the firm enough to go there."

WREG tried several times to contact Magee by phone but no one ever answered.

When we tried to stop by his home, we discovered it was a gated community.

A complaint was filed by the state today against Magee from abuse of a corpse and impersonating a licensed professional.

Memphis Police said charges could be filed.