AHOSKIE, N.C. (WAVY) – A grieving family is in disbelief after a funeral home mix-up in North Carolina left a stranger in their mother’s casket, wearing her clothes.
Sisters Jennifer Taylor and Jennetta Archer lost their mother, Mary, last month. On the day of her viewing at Hunter’s Funeral Home in Ahoskie, they walked up to their mother’s casket and found another woman lying inside.
“We just couldn’t understand how this could happen,” said Taylor.
Taylor told WAVY that she and her sister knew something was wrong the moment they peered in the casket.
“There’s no similarity in the person. Their size was way off. When the first person had the clothing on, she was swimming in the clothes because she was so small compared to my mother,” Archer said.
The sisters immediately alerted staff at the funeral home. The sisters said the home at first denied the woman was someone else until they went into the embalming room and found the real Mary Archer.
“For this to play out like that, it’s just embarrassing,” Taylor said.
The bodies of the women were switched and the service began, but the sisters said they feel as though the mix-up was never properly resolved, nor was an apology issued.
“No one addressed it immediately. It would have been a different situation if they had just come upfront and addressed it immediately to show that yes, they did, they made an error,” Archer said.
The lead embalmer at Hunter’s Funeral Home confirmed to WAVY that the mix-up happened on Sept. 7. He said it was an “honest mistake” and apologized to the family.
He said this has never happened in more than 40 years of embalming and that he has tried contacting Taylor and Archer to explain. The sisters said they never got that call and just want answers.
“What do you do to prevent something like that from happening? Don’t they have a chart per person and treat them like a customer or a patient, or whatever you want to refer to them as, so that you don’t have them mixed up?” Archer said.