AHOSKIE, N.C. (WAVY) — It’s hard enough losing a loved one. Now, imagine walking up to the casket and finding a stranger in your family member’s 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, when the pair walked up to Mary’s casket, another woman was inside.
“We just couldn’t understand how this could happen,” said Jennifer Taylor.
Taylor told 10 On Your Side she and her sister felt something was off 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,” Jennetta Archer explained.
The pair immediately addressed the issue with staff at Hunter’s Funeral Home. The sisters said the home at first denied the woman was someone else until they went back into the embalming room and saw the real Mary Archer.
“For this to play out like that, it’s just embarrassing,” Taylor said.
The switch was made and the service began, but the sisters said they feel like the mix-up was never properly resolved or 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.
10 On Your Side spoke with the lead embalmer at Hunter’s Funeral Home who confirmed the mix-up happened on Sept. 7. They 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 has tried contacting Taylor and Archer to explain — both of whom said they never got that call and just want their questions answered.
“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.