CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – When a family went to say their final goodbyes to their loved one, they said something didn’t look right. Come to find out, she was switched in a casket with another woman who also just passed away.
York Memorial Park is where family thought they laid Elease McInnis to rest. Days after her July 2 funeral, they found out their burial was for a complete stranger in this awful body mix-up. People in the funeral business are saying they’ve never heard of anything like it.
“She doesn’t deserve this. Nobody deserves this,” said Jerry Bowman, the son of 75-year-old Catherine B. White.
White passed away on June 26. Monday night, the Bowman family told FOX 46 that Alexander Funeral Home had someone else’s body in their loved one’s casket.
Today, FOX 46 confirmed with the cemetery that White was actually buried by the family of 91-year-old Elease McInnis.
While the funeral home has consistently declined to comment, both families have confirmed with FOX 46 that somehow, their loved ones were switched.
“You shouldn’t run into a problem like that if you are on top of your game, if you want to say it that way,” Palmer Dupree Sr. said.
Dupree , who works with Long and Son Mortuary Services, says families should expect a thorough process from start to finish, which includes tagging everything from the body to the clothes and casket.
“We properly tag the remains. We place an ID tag on their toe or either on their wrist. That’s before we even bring them back to the funeral home,” Dupree said. “And then you have a log sheet you should follow by and also you should inform your staff as well. Everyone should know exactly who the remains are.”
The North Carolina Board of Funeral Services, which governs the profession, states the body or urn must have “a tag of durable, non-corroding material permanently marked with the name of the deceased, the date of death, the social security number of the deceased, the county and state of death, and the site of interment or entombment.”
It’s not clear yet how these two women traded places. While their families try to sort everything out, it’s clear this is taking a toll.
One of McInnis’ family members told FOX 46 they’re embarrassed and heartbroken. She says some of them thought McInnis looked different, but they weren’t sure if it was the embalming process. They never imagined it was a completely different person.