CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. -
A Clarksville woman is behind bars after allegedly stealing purses from funeral homes and churches.
“I didn't think about that happening to me at a funeral home,” said Nancy Thompson, whose purse was stolen during a visitation at Neal-Tarpley-Parchman Funeral Home in Clarksville on June 5.
Thompson was with her family in the kitchen of the funeral home when she said 49-year-old Paula Mullens of Clarksville approached her.
“At one point she said that was her aunt that was dead there and they didn't even know her,” said Thompson. “She drew our attention to our grandson talking about how cute he was."
Thompson said her purse was hanging on the back of her chair. A few minutes after Mullens left she noticed it was gone.
Thompson said she lost about $1,650 and all her identification cards.
“It was devastating to me,” Thompson recalled.
According to court documents, the day before, Mullens also stole a purse from a woman attending a funeral at Hilldale Church of Christ and two purses from women who got up during a viewing at Sykes Funeral Home.
“I have been in this business a long time and never heard someone stealing purses from a funeral home,” said Mike Parchman, owner of Neal-Tarpley-Parchman Funeral Home.
He said four days after Mullens allegedly stole Thompson’s purse she came back.
“Someone came in and said she's here and there she was. She signed the register book and was looking around,” said Parchman.
He said he knew who to look out for because someone at the funeral home knew her name.
He did some research and found an old mug shot of her. He said when he saw her again he wasn’t going to let her get away.
“I brought her in this office right here. We sat her down right here and the police interviewed her,” said Parchman.
Mullens was arrested on four counts of theft.
Thompson said she learned a valuable lesson.
“You just can’t trust anybody really,” she said.
Mullens has a long criminal history including many prior theft and burglary charges.
She was booked into the Montgomery County jail on $80,000 bond. Her next court appearance is Tuesday morning.