INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — REAL News Central Indiana has learned an elementary school teacher for Indianapolis Public Schools was previously involved in an elaborate scheme with a scam non-profit that would take and share nude pictures of dead bodies. Aisha Avance (who also goes by Aisha Martin) is currently a teacher at Ralph Waldo Emerson School on Linwood Avenue. Prior to that, she was the President of a non-profit out of South Bend called “Justice for Michiana” — which claimed to be a charity created to help families of homicide victims pay for funeral arrangements.
The nude picture scheme involving Avance’s non-profit was in conjunction with a funeral home in Northern Indiana. The funeral home’s director admitted hundreds of photos had been taken at his facility and subsequently had his funeral license suspended by the state. The funeral home also settled multiple lawsuits with families whose loved ones had nude pictures taken and shared by Avance’s non-profit.
The nude picture scheme also led to multiple federal and state investigations, including an investigation by the Indiana Attorney General’s Office.
THE NUDE PICTURE SCAM
The nude picture scam initially came to light in 2021 after an investigative report by RNCI’s sister outlet, REAL News Michiana. RNM interviewed several people who saw pictures of full-nude bodies of the recently deceased that were taken at Alford’s Mortuary in South Bend. You can read that full story here.
RNM spoke to one woman who saw the photographs while working at the Voter Registration Office in the St. Joseph County government building in Northern Indiana. At the time, Avance was an employee in the same office and would have meetings with another member of her non-profit, Vernado Malone. During one of those meetings, Malone took out his phone and commenced showing the pictures of two nude dead bodies to people in the government building. Malone is a career criminal who has been arrested multiple times for child molestation, battery and fraud. He has been sentenced to time in federal prison on multiple occasions.
“He was bragging about how he was able to get this guy (recently deceased) put back together again and nobody else in the area could.” Trisha Carrico, a former Voter Registration office employee, said.
“He said to me while he was talking to (Aisha Avance), ‘You couldn’t handle seeing this photo.’” Carrico said. “He was talking about a man who killed himself… this man was really badly decayed.”
Carrico says Malone then showed her two photos. One before the victim’s body was worked on, the other one was after.
“It was graphic. In the first picture he was laying on a table… there really wasn’t a whole lot left of him.” She said. “In the second picture he was all dressed up, the funeral home had pretty much put the man back together again.”
Carrico says Malone then asked Avance if he should show her more pictures.
“He said, ‘Hey, should I show her a picture of that guy?’” Carrico said. “(Avance) said ‘Oh Lord.’ Then he was sliding through his phone and showed me another guy.” Carrico explained.
“It was a full nude picture, shot from his feet up. He was laying on top of a sheet. He had been shot in the head.” She said.
Malone admitted to RNM that he was taking the photos and that members of his board would see them.
RNM’s Clifton French asked Malone, “What purpose does it serve to take nude pictures of the recently deceased?”
“That would be confidential information.” Malone responded.
RNM reached out to Avance for comment. She did not return our messages. She is listed as the President of Justice for Michiana in organization documentation.
AVANCE BECOMES A TEACHER
Following exposure of the nude picture scheme, Avance moved to Indianapolis where, for the past two years, she has been working as a teacher in the IPS system.
It turns out, Avance went through an apprenticeship program through IPS called IndyTeach. IndyTeach is an accelerated no-cost, paid teacher certification program that allows non-traditional educators to become licensed in just one year. An article published by WTHR highlighted Avance and IndyTeach earlier this year.
RNCI reached out to IPS for comment. A spokesperson for the school district advised he would look into the situation and get back with us later.
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