Prosecutors file formal charge in corpse abuse case


A formal charge of felony abuse of a corpse has been filed by Miller County prosecutors against a man who allegedly buried a friend’s body beneath a shed in his back yard.

Chad Allen Jernigan, 41, was arrested in July in connection with the disappearance of Richard York. York was reported missing by his mother July 17, 2017, to the Texarkana, Texas, Police Department, according to a probable cause affidavit.

At that time, Jernigan told investigators he had dropped York off on Summerhill Road in Texarkana, Texas, on the evening of July 4 “after a verbal disturbance.” Jernigan voluntarily allowed police to search his home in July 2017 but nothing suspicious was found.

Texarkana, Ark., police received information July 25, 2018, that York had died at Jernigan’s home in the 4900 block of Union Road and that Jernigan had buried him under a shed behind the residence. Detectives attempted to contact Jernigan at his home July 26 but Jernigan did not answer the door.

“With reports that Jernigan was armed, it was decided to watch the residence until we knew the location of Jernigan,” the affidavit states.

Officers watched the house until Jernigan left in his truck that night at approximately 10 p.m. After Jernigan turned onto I-49 he allegedly began driving over 100 miles per hour and swerved in and out of traffic. Jernigan was stopped in Texarkana, Ark., and arrested for reckless driving.

Jernigan allegedly told detectives that York was at his home July 4, 2017, and died “for an unknown reason” in a two story shed in the back yard.

“Jernigan said he was scared and didn’t want to call the police, so he pulled the flooring up from the shed, exposing the bare earth underneath,” the affidavit states. “Jernigan then explained that he buried York underneath the shed and poured a layer of concrete on top of him. He then replaced the flooring.”

Abuse of a corpse is a Class C felony punishable by three to ten years in prison. A fine up to $10,000 may be imposed as well.

Jernigan has been in the Miller County jail since the time of his arrest. Bail is set at $150,000.

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