Funeral Industry News

Family Says Funeral Home ‘Lost’ Their Mother’s Body

February 1, 2010

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Family Says Funeral Home ‘Lost’ Their Mother’s Body

imageA grieving family looks into an open casket and sees the wrong person’s body. They say the Pipkin Mortuary in Denver first tried to tell them it was their mother, then gave up and admitted they couldn’t find her body.

The family of Imogene Jackson gathered for a viewing at Pipkin Mortuary at 2531 Ogden Street in Denver Friday night, and were presented with the body of an unidentified woman dressed in Jackson’s clothes.

A relative, Bernard Black, says mortuary staff tried to pass off the wrong body as Jackson.

“They took the clothes that were intended for Mrs. Jackson and put them on the other woman, and as I said, tried to convince the children that that was their mother. It’s a terrible situation for which no one has owned up to,” Black said.

The viewing hours had to be called off. It wasn’t until Saturday morning, a few hours before the funeral, that Jackson’s body was found. Family members say they were called down to the mortuary to identify the body.

Black says no one can understand how the mortuary made this mistake.

“How do you lose a body? I mean, anyone can take a toe tag or a post-it. I mean, it’s ridiculous,” Black said.

Jackson’s funeral took place Saturday afternoon at New Hope Baptist Church in Denver.

The owner of Pipkin Mortuary, Mark Pipkin, showed up to direct the funeral. When 9NEWS tried to speak with him, he said he could not comment because he was working.

Before the funeral, he did talk to us on the phone. He would not say how the mix-up happened, or why the mortuary lost Jackson’s body. He would only say: “Yes we did dress the wrong body. But all is rectified and the funeral will go on.”

Jackson’s family says they are not satisfied with Pipkin’s response.

“No it has not been rectified,” Black said. “This family has been severely traumatized by this situation. He has not apologized, to my knowledge he has not apologized, I don’t think he thinks he did anything wrong.”

Black says this is an outrageous situation for his family, and the family of the other woman the mortuary dressed up as Jackson.

“It’s a tragedy that her remains would not be respected, and the remains of the other poor person, If this was an accident, it is inexcusable,” he said.

He says the family is considering seeking some kind of civil relief.

Denver Police were called out to the Pipkin Mortuary Friday night at 7:45 p.m. Lt. Matt Murray says officers spent about an hour there, and that the department is monitoring the case. He says a detective is now looking into the case further, based on what he’s learned from 9NEWS. Lt. Murray says the detective may present evidence to the district attorney for possible charges.