PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - A Petersburg family believes a funeral home gave them the wrong ashes, and the wrong family has their daughter's remains.
It's a shocking complaint. Bennett Funeral Home sent me an email Monday night after I reached out to them several times over the past two weeks. The email, in part, says Bennett cannot discuss the complaint at this time but says it's "in the process of compiling the facts related to the customer's concerns as quickly as is humanly possible."
Quia Henderson didn't notice anything wrong, she says, until a year after her stillborn daughter's cremation.
She felt strong enough to open the box containing her ashes June 29, her daughter's first birthday. Bennett Funeral Home, Westmoreland Services, Inc. did the cremation free of charge.
"I guess this is a case where you get what you pay for," said Henderson.
The problem is in the numbers. The certificate of cremation number is 2012-287. The outer box is marked the same - but the disk on the bag of remains has a different number. The ashes are labeled 12-286.
"By law, they have to match. They don't match," said Henderson. "What is this, and where's my daughter?"
Henderson says she called Bennett Funeral Home right away and was told it's a typo and to come pick up the correct certificate. She grew more doubtful, comparing the remains of another stillborn daughter cremated at a different facility in 2005.
"Her urn is in this box. You smell it even before you open the box, you smell it. This smells or looks nothing like cremated remains," said Henderson.
I contacted Bennett November 15. Vice President Sam Harrison messaged back three days later. He said it was the first he'd heard of the situation and he was checking it out.
Two weeks passed. Harrison did not answer any of my calls - not until Monday, after I made a couple more calls to him and the State Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers.
his email reply, in part says, "Bennett is grateful for the patience several of our customers and partners have shown, as we are working to resolve this situation... our unyielding obligation to treat every single one of our customers with dignity and respect, remains as strong as ever, and that expectation will continue to guide us as we go forward."
Henderson doesn't see a resolution and says her daughters were cremated so they could be buried with her, when she dies.
"You can't replace her," said Henderson. "You can't tell me where she is. She could be with another family. That family could have spread the remains. You can't fix this."
It could be a typo. We don't know right now. Bennett says once its review is complete, it will be in a better position to address concerns, and take any corrective action which might be needed.
Here is the complete statement from Harrison:
A former patron of Bennett Funeral Home has recently made us aware of a very sensitive situation that requires our utmost and prompt attention. While we are not at liberty to discuss the specific nature of the issue publicly at this time, Bennett Funeral Home is in the process of compiling the facts related to the customer's concerns as quickly as is humanly possible. Once this review is completed, we will then be in a better position to address those concerns and take any corrective action which might be needed.
We are grateful for the patience several of our customers and partners have shown as we are working to resolve this situation. Our unyielding obligation to treat every single one of our customers with dignity and respect remains as strong as ever, and that expectation will continue to guide us as we go forward.
No additional comments will be made at this time.
Sam Harrison, VP Bennett Funeral Home