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Facebook photo of veteran's body displayed with no coffin at visitation prompts outrage

Payment issue led funeral home to use gurney
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Posted at 3:41 PM, May 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-15 10:07:21-04

When friends and family of George Taylor showed up to pay respects at his visitation on Thursday, some of them were shocked by what they saw.

The body of Taylor, a 71-year-old U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War, was laid out on a gurney with an American flag draped over him. The reason his body wasn't placed inside a coffin was due to an apparent issue about payment between Taylor's family and Heritage Funeral Home in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia.

Taylor's son James Taylor told Chattanooga's WTVC-TV that he agreed to the arrangement before his dad's visitation but still felt it was "very disrespectful" to his memory. James Taylor said the issue was over a $9,000 payment that was due to come from his father's life insurance.

An image of George Taylor's body on the gurney, flanked by two American flags on stands, was posted to Facebook by Ella Moss on the day of the visitation. It prompted some outrage in the community and was shared more than 3,500 times.

"This is how his friends an (sic) family had to see him," Moss wrote in the post with the photo. "I am in total disbelief."

Some commenters came to the defense of Heritage Funeral Home, saying Taylor's family agreed to the unorthodox arrangement.

"Smearing the reputation of a funeral home because you disagree with the arrangements that were made is not good practice," one commenter wrote on Moss's post.

A representative from Heritage Funeral Home told WTVC the business has received threats since the photo was posted.

"We were trying to honor the request and let them have some closure by viewing their loved one," a Heritage employee told WTVC.

According to his obituary, Taylor lived in Ringgold, Georgia and was to be buried with military honors at Chattanooga National Cemetary.

Clint Davis covers entertainment and trending news topics for the Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @MrClintDavis.