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Hearse carrying homicide victim is taken from outside church

A hearse containing the body of homicide victim Jonté Lee Reed, 19, was briefly taken from outside Ebenezer Baptist Church in South Los Angeles, authorities said.

The incident occurred about 11 a.m. Saturday, after the hearse was left idling outside the church. Family members, who had been notified of the theft, spotted the missing hearse while en route to the service and chased down the vehicle.

Shirley Little, wife of pastor Kenneth Little, said the funeral director had left the hearse idling as he arranged flowers inside the church. Little said she could not recall a similar incident in the 75 year history of the church.

"This is truly one for the books,'' she said.

Police told KTLA-5 that the man found driving the hearse would be charged with auto theft and have his mental condition evaluated.

Little said the hearse and casket were returned to the church a short time later and the funeral services took place. The body did not appear to be disturbed, she said.

"Even with all of that occurring, the service for this gentleman was only 30 minutes late and it was nice,'' she said.

-- Catherine Saillant

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