After looking at photographs of what Shaynna Lauren Sims did at a Tulsa funeral home two years ago, an Oklahoma jury on Friday found her guilty of five charges related to mutilating a corpse.
On April 30, 2015, Sims gained entry to the funeral home by telling the dead woman’s family she was a makeup artist preparing the body for viewing.
But instead, she cut off Tabatha Lynch’s breasts, a toe and locks of hair, and slashed her forehead. She stole her shoes, too.
Sims allegedly thought her husband had cheated on her with Lynch.
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“In all these years I’ve worked in the funeral industry, I’ve never seen that happen,” testified Greg Lee, funeral director at Moore’s Eastlawn Funeral Home, where the desecration took place.
Funeral home staffers reportedly didn’t realize Sims had removed body parts until they went to prepare Lynch’s body for cremation. She died of natural causes at age 38.
Police identified Sims, who is 28, as the culprit.
“I didn’t even know she’d be capable of doing that,” Sims’ now-estranged husband, Monty Smith, testified at trial.
According to the Tulsa World, prosecutors argued that Sims wanted retribution because she thought Smith was cheating on her with Lynch, an accusation Smith has denied. Authorities described the two women as “frenemies.”
Family members told police they saw Sims with her hands inside the casket at the funeral home, reported News on 6 in Tulsa.
“The funeral director informed us that the deceased’s body was in a viewing room when some friends and family came to pay their respects,” Leland Ashley, a Tulsa Police Department spokesman, told NBC News at the time of Sims’ arrest in 2015.
“When they entered, they observed at least one female with their hands inside the casket.”
Hair was found on the floor near the casket; Lynch’s makeup was smeared on her face.
There was also “a large vertical cut starting from the hairline stretching to the tip of the nose,” according to the arrest report.
Sims was also charged with burglary because she went to Lynch’s apartment afterward and posed as a funeral home worker to Lynch’s family so she could steal the woman’s jewelry.
When police patted her down, they found a folding knife on Sims that contained hair matching the hair next to Lynch’s casket, according to News on 6. She also reportedly had scissors, a box cutter and “various pieces of makeup.”
In closing arguments Sims’ attorney said his client was “not in the right state of mind” because she was humiliated and embarrassed by her husband’s adultery, the World reported.
Prosecutors argued that Sims was an “angry woman” upset by her husband’s cheating.
The jury went with the angry-woman argument.
The jury recommended Sims serve 16 years in prison on a total of five counts, including seven years in prison for first-degree burglary and five years for unlawfully removing a body part from someone who is deceased.
Sentencing is scheduled for June 1.