Son: 'They buried another woman in my mother's clothes' | Events
The Tolbert family of Zachary is devastated after a funeral home allegedly misplaced their mother’s body and put the wrong person in their mother’s casket.
Thelma Tolbert, 71, died July 8. Her son Raymond Tolbert says the family discovered the mix-up at Miller and Daughter Mortuary in Zachary when they went to view the body on July 18, about 30 minutes before the visitation was scheduled at the funeral home.
“My mother had a boil on her earlobe and this woman didn’t have that,” Tolbert says. “My mother had a birthmark on her chin and this woman didn’t have that. We told Miller (the funeral home owner) that it wasn’t her and he claimed it was.”
The family told funeral officials they would go ahead with the funeral service that was scheduled the next day on July 19 since family and friends were already in town, but they didn’t want to bury her until her identity was confirmed.
The services were held at Union Baptist Church in Zachary where Thelma had been a longtime member.
Mildred Stewart, a member of the church and a longtime friend, attended the funeral.
“People started viewing the body and realized it wasn’t Thelma Bell,” she says. “It made me sick to my stomach. I’ve never experienced anything like that before.”
After the funeral, the funeral home conducted a DNA test, according to family members. Tolbert says funeral officials told the family the woman was not their mother and that their mother had been buried four days prior. The body was exhumed and the family held a private burial on Monday, July 22.
“Miller never apologized,” Tolbert says. “He just said this had never happened before. I didn’t understand how this could have happened. They buried the woman in my mother’s clothes and my mother in her clothes. It hurts and it’s something we’ll never forget. I just hope that no other family has to go through this. I’m just glad it’s over and my mother can finally rest in peace.”
The family has retained Attorney Randy Piedrahita. Piedrahita tells WAFB that he is seeking compensation.
Meanwhile, Myra Miller Jenkins of Miller and Daughter Mortuary tells WAFB the funeral home has “no comment.”
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