Man in corpse-abuse case forced to put apology on billboard

FORT WORTH, Texas — Almost four years after authorities found three decomposing bodies inside a repossessed van, the owner of a former cadaver transportation company is apologizing for his actions on a highway billboard.

Donald Richard Short, 44, was required to write the message and pay for the billboard at Texas 121 and Beach Street as part of his probation, prosecutor Hugo Martinez said.

Short was sentenced to two years' probation in April 2006 after pleading no contest to three charges of corpse abuse for mishandling the bodies of Lonnie Leffall, Odis Hughes and Thomas Shadowens.

Williams Funeral Chapel had hired Short's company, North Star Transportation, to take the bodies of the three men, who had died in 2000 of natural causes, to a crematorium and deliver their ashes to the appropriate locations. But after Short's van was towed from his Hurst home, the remains were found March 2, 2005, zipped in dirty body bags, stacked atop each other and hidden under cardboard boxes.

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