Colorado to Close Pipkin Mortuary After Body Mix-Up

February 3, 2010
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imageThe state has ordered a funeral home that mixed up the bodies of two women to close next week so regulators can investigate the incident.

Pipkin Mortuary mistakenly buried the remains of Imogene Jackson, 64, in a casket that should have held Evelyn Jackson.

The interred body was exhumed, and Pipkin held Imogene Jackson’s funeral Saturday.

Chris Lines, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, said the mortuary will be shut down as of Monday as the state investigates.

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“We will want an accounting of everything that happened in this situation,” Line said.

Pipkin was already in violation of regulations calling for all funeral homes in the state to register by Jan. 1, Lines said. Funeral homes have had since November to submit their applications.

Pipkin officials brought in their registration application Monday morning.

The state won’t review the application until the investigation is complete.

Rosemary McCool, director of the agency’s Division of Registration, will then decide whether to grant registration with or without restrictions.

Joseph Mark Pipkin, the funeral home’s owner, didn’t return phone calls for comment. But he did apologize to both Jackson families in a written release.

“Pipkin Mortuary cannot begin to fully express our deep regret and sincere apologies to the families of Evelyn Jackson and Imogene Jackson for this most unfortunate incident,” he said in the release. “Although we make every effort to fulfill our commitment to the community, on this occasion human error resulted in a mistake.”

Pipkin said the mortuary is also performing an internal review.

Denver police have been investigating the incident, but their investigation won’t result in charges, said Denver police spokesman Lt. Matt Murray.

“It is kind of a civil matter unless we find some criminal action,” Murray said.

It is rare for a mortuary or crematorium to misplace a body, said John Reed, past president of the National Funeral Directors Association.

Until Jan. 1, Colorado was the only state in the nation that didn’t have regulatory oversight of funeral homes.

There always were some regulations, but there has been little enforcement since 1982 when the legislature let the existing licensing for funeral directors and funeral homes expire, said Steffani Blackstock, executive director of the Colorado Funeral Directors Association.

The lack of licensing made it possible for anyone to set up a mortuary, whether or not they had training in the field.

Most mortuaries have strong procedures to make sure the dead are properly identified, Blackstock said.

Article By: Tom McGhee: 303-954-1671 or tmcghee@denverpost.com

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