Her trouble began before she even arrived at the memorial service, police said, when Frierson side-swiped multiple parked vehicles from behind the wheel of a red pickup truck, according to a Columbia Police Department report cited by the Daily Herald.
Police were talking to the owner of one of the damaged vehicles when a call from dispatch arrived informing officers that the action had moved to the funeral home.
Frierson had arrived, the dispatcher said, and things were getting strange, according to CBS affiliate WTVF.
A witness would later tell police that “Frierson showed up at the funeral home as they were actively having a funeral and walked up to the open casket,” according to the report cited by the Daily Herald. At that point, the report stated, she “began grabbing at the body inside of the casket and at one point attempted to get the body out of the casket.”
Furious funeral attendees demanded that Frierson leave, the witness told police, but she refused. The report states that “six people had to pull her away from the casket and take her outside,” according to the Daily Herald.
During an interview with ABC affiliate WKRN-TV, Frierson disputed reports that she attempted to remove the body from the casket. She said she knew the deceased man and merely touched him.
“I did not do that,” Frierson said. “When I went up, I just went up and touched him, and if they were recording, I just touched him and turned around and I said, ‘He is just asleep,’ and I said, ‘Everything is going to be okay.’ ”
Frierson told the station that she did have to be removed from the funeral home, but said “it was not a conflict.”
“It was because I told them that he was asleep and they was like, ‘Come on, come on out of here’ ” she told the station. “I said, ‘He is not dead. He is asleep,’ and that is it.”
At least one family member of the man who was being laid to rest backs up Frierson’s story.
Keith Mayes Sr., whose father was being memorialized, told WKRN-TV that he was upset by Frierson’s behavior, but that she didn’t attempt to remove his father from his coffin.
“She kept saying, ‘He is not dead, he is sleeping,’ so when she did make one effort to touch his hand at that time my brother and I told her that she would have to step away from the casket, which she did and as she was walking down the aisle we told her we wanted her to leave,” Mayes told the station.
“But as upset as we were about her presence, I don’t want her to be accused of something that she did not do, and in no way did she try to remove his body from the casket.”
By the time police caught up with Frierson, she reeked of alcohol and slurred her speech, the Daily Herald reported.
Police charged her with disrupting a funeral or memorial service, public intoxication, driving on revoked/suspended license, immediate notice of accident and unlawful drug paraphernalia, the paper reported.
The drug paraphernalia charged was added after officer discovered that Frierson was holding a glass pipe that police maintain was used for smoking crack cocaine.
Police said Frierson also faces additional charges, including “disorderly conduct at funerals, due to her grabbing the body inside of the casket, which was offensive to the sensibilities of an ordinary person,” the paper reported.
According to Tennessee state law, the disorderly conduct at funerals — a class C misdemeanor — occurs when:
“A person commits the offense of interfering with a funeral or burial, funeral home viewing of a deceased person, funeral procession, or funeral or memorial service for a deceased person, if the person acts to obstruct or interfere with such commemorative service by making any utterance, gesture, or display in a manner offensive to the sensibilities of an ordinary person. Picketing, protesting, or demonstrating at a funeral or memorial service shall be deemed offensive to the sensibilities of an ordinary person.”
Frierson is being held in the Maury County jail on a $6,500 bond, the Daily Herald reported.
Police said Frierson told an officer that she did not drive to the funeral home.
“At one point, she did state that she drove a friend to the store in a red truck and then immediately tried to change the story and say that she wasn’t actually the person driving,” the report cited by the Daily Herald states. “It was her friend, but she could not tell me her friend’s name.”
Frierson told WKRN-TV that each one of the allegations is false.
“When they got down here, they say I was driving a truck and hit two cars, and they said I was driving on a revoked [license],” she said. “They tried to say drug paraphernalia and disorderly of a funeral service, and I haven’t done anything.”
Gary Stovall, who lives near Frierson and has known her for decades, told WTVF that he wasn’t surprised that his neighbor had attempted to remove a body from a casket at a memorial service.
“It really wasn’t shocking because I knew her capability, what she might do,” he told the station, claiming that police have been called to her residence on many occasions. “You want to think she wouldn’t do anything like that.
“It’s sad to see a young person ruining their life like that, the way she’s doing and the situations she gets in,” Stovall added.