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Wrong body on display in casket at mom’s viewing, North Carolina sisters say

Hunter’s Funeral Home in Ahoskie, North Carolina. Two sisters said the funeral home placed the wrong body in their mother’s casket before her viewing service in September 2021.

Hunter’s Funeral Home in Ahoskie, North Carolina. Two sisters said the funeral home placed the wrong body in their mother’s casket before her viewing service in September 2021.

Screenshot from Google Maps

Two North Carolina sisters said the funeral home handling their mother’s services presented them with the wrong body at her viewing.

Jennifer Taylor and Jennetta Archer lost their mother, Mary, last month, WAVY reported. Archer said in a Sept. 18 Facebook post that her family was hoping that the preparation of her mother would be “uneventful and unstressful, since losing your loved one is already difficult enough to cope with.”

“This was not the case for my family,” Archer said.

The two sisters knew something had gone wrong as they looked inside their mother’s casket at Hunter’s Funeral Home in Ahoskie. Instead of their mother, they found another woman who they said looked nothing like her, wearing the clothes they picked out for her.

“There’s no similarity in the person,” Archer told WAVY. “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.”

The sisters approached funeral home employees to address the matter, and they initially denied the fact that there was a problem, The Associated Press reported.

“When we informed them that was not our mother, they initially insisted it was,” Archer wrote.

The funeral home only acknowledged the mistake when workers went to the embalming room and found Mary Archer’s actual body, according to the AP.

“For this to play out like that, it’s just embarrassing,” Taylor told WAVY.

The funeral home switched the two bodies and the service continued, but the two sisters said they still feel the issue was never properly addressed.

“Unfortunately, we never received an apology from Hunter’s Funeral Home of Ahoskie, North Carolina to acknowledge that such an egregious error had been made,” Archer wrote on Facebook. “I can guarantee that the other deceased person’s family is unaware that this had occurred.”

The funeral home told WAVY it had reached out to Archer and Taylor to apologize, but the two sisters said they had not received a call and that their unanswered questions still linger, the AP reported.

In a Sept. 22 Facebook post, Archer said she and her sister attempted to hold a virtual meeting with funeral home staff to discuss the matter, but that the meeting was “disregarded and unattended.”

“What do you do to prevent something like that from happening?” Archer told WAVY. “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?”

The funeral home declined to comment after McClatchy News asked about the matter.

Vandana Ravikumar is a McClatchy Real-Time reporter. She grew up in northern Nevada and studied journalism and political science at Arizona State University. Previously, she reported for USA Today, The Dallas Morning News, and Arizona PBS.

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