State investigating funeral home mix-up

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by Jesse Jones / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @getjesse

KING5.com

Posted on October 22, 2013 at 11:12 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 22 at 11:15 PM

Losing a loved one is hard.  However, having the wrong body in the casket for the funeral is much worse. That's what happened to Brian Moon's father in a memorial service held yesterday at Brown Mortuary Service in Chehalis.

"I could immediately tell it wasn't my father.  He was dressed in my father's clothes, but it wasn't him," said Moon.

According to the family, Brian's father Jerry wanted to be buried in a plot next to his family.  But instead, through some mix up, the wrong body ended up in the casket and Jerry ended up cremated.

"He was terrified of being cremated.  He was scared of it.  He didn't want any part of it," explained Moon.

I went to Brown mortuary looking for answers and they asked me to leave.  I was given the phone number of their parent company, Houston-based Service Corporation International.  Next I went to the Washington Department of Licensing and talked to Christine Anthony to find out what's next in the investigation.

"State law does require funeral employees to properly identify the person from the removal site and place some sort of bracelet on them to identify them correctly," explained Anthony.

Anthony said the agency has launched an investigation into two funeral homes - Brown and another one she will not name which may have participated in the handling of Jerry's body.

"At this point we don't know who's responsible," said Anthony.
 
If investigators find the facilities responsible, they could face fines suspensions or revocation of their license.  Moon says Brown's Mortuary has apologized and says they were told the body was Jerry Moon's.

In the meantime, one thing you can do to get a little piece of mind is lookup the licenses of funeral directors on the Department of Licensing’s website.  For now, all Brian can do is remember his father and search for justice.

"If whoever's responsible doesn't feel the repercussions, then maybe this will happen to someone else again.  I can tell you it permanently put a dent in me," said Moon.

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