Cremation mix up leaves Petersburg mother heartbroken

Cremation mix up leaves Petersburg mother heartbroken

PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - A Petersburg family now knows for sure - they got the wrong ashes when their still born daughter was cremated a year ago.

The grieving mother says Bennett Funeral Home has admitted the awful screw up one week after On Your Side investigator Diane Walker's report.

Quia Henderson says she knew in her heart she had the wrong ashes, and hearing it from Bennett Funeral Home didn't take away the pain. I talked with her right after she got the dreadful call Wednesday.

"I'm very upset, saddened and disappointed," said Henderson. "We put our baby in you guys hands to take care of her."

Whoever handled baby Heaven's cremation at Bennett Funeral Home labeled a bag of remains 12-286 but grouped it with paperwork for 2012-287. It means ashes passed off as Henderson's still born baby girl actually belong to a stranger, and her child was falsely identified and presented to the wrong family.

Bennett's vice president Sam Harrison told her in a phone call.

"He said they finally got in contact with them," said Henderson. "They're in another part of Virginia, but they are still in Virginia. He said that everything that's wrong with my paper work is wrong with their paper work."

He didn't say who messed up, how, or why Henderson was initially told it was a typo and to come pick up the correct certificate. She called 12 instead.

"I thank God for you. Yes ma'am, I do," said Henderson.

She has confirmation now that her gut feeling was right, but she's not at peace. Henderson is crushed by doubt and broken trust.

"When I left her at that hospital, I said, 'it's ok, Heaven... Mommy's going to see you soon. You're going back home with mommy soon.'"

I reached out to Bennett and got an email response. Harrison said he was arranging two funerals and wanted to talk the next day.

The switch hasn't happened yet. Henderson says neither family is guaranteed exchanging remains will make it right.

"Just like them. They might not be able to trust that these are their baby's remains. Just like I can't be able to trust if we do this exchange, these are my baby's remains. That whole thing is broken now," said Henderson.

Henderson says there should be consequences. She wants the state to take action. The Virginia Board of Funeral Directors has the power to fine Bennett, suspend or revoke its license - if it determines Bennett failed to follow the law.

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