Liberia: Pandemonium Erupts Over Missing Body at Alfred Butler Funeral Home
Paynesville – The family of the late Lacee Flomo had no option on Saturday, November 30 but to painfully perform a burial ceremonial without her corpse.
The management of the Alfred N. Butler Funeral Home was unable to produce the body which had stayed in the mortuary for two weeks. The situation sparked outrage amongst family members.
Marcus Flomo, a son of the deceased, said the “aggressive posture” demonstrated by workers of the funeral home was unacceptable.
“For heaven’s sake, the body we brought here had tattoos on the two hands, chest and right foot, but we went to identify all the bodies they show us and none of them was the particular body,” said Flomo.
“Our mother died from pressure and there is no way that those tattoos will be lost from her body. In fact, is the funeral home telling us that we do not know the face of the person we lived with for years?
“We contacted some family members and we have contacted the lawyers and the lawyers came, but they are still denying that the body they showed us is the body we brought here.”
Oldma Lacee died at age 72 on Friday, November 22 and was expected to be given a befitting burial. However, her weeping family and relatives were all left in frustration after her corpse could not be found in the funeral home.
The family said the management of the funeral home opted for a dialogue with them but it could not materialize after officers of the Liberia National Police Forensic Team arrived on the scene.
“They called us for dialogue previously on grounds that they misplaced the body, so we insisted that you give us written document, but when the police came in they changed their thoughts saying the body is ours and if we do not want it, an autopsy should be conducted,” explained Marcus.
He said his mother was taken to the funeral home on November 22, after medical report proved that she had fallen as a result of hypotension (high blood pressure).
He added: “I brought the body here and they charged me for one week and we paid the cost but unfortunately this morning, we came and we cannot see the body, it had been misplaced. The actual body they gave us is not our mother’s body.”
“This funeral home has left us in total shock and confusion and we are going to live with this trauma for the rest of our lives. We are afraid because it may not be only us,” Marcus sadly stated.
Marcus also expressed disenchantment in the police forensic team for “conniving with funeral home management to deprive us from getting our mother’s body.”
“The same funeral home people were the ones that called the Police Forensic team and they went in and talk after which they informed us verbally that they will pay back all our expenditure and they will find the body, but we insisted that it be documented, but they refused,” he asserted.
“After that, they (funeral home management) and the police went back in their office and after some times, they called us and told us that since we are refusing the other body on grounds that it is not our mother’s body, they want to do an autopsy on the body in question and that the autopsy can only be done in Ghana.”
According to him, the move is intended to “push us around”, aimed at giving them no redress, since in fact, the funeral home management was bragging as saying: “if they do not want the body, the case will go nowhere.”
Continued Marcus: “The police who came there give us their numbers and said we should go at the head office of the Liberia National Police. They told us to do a follow-up at Central and they will contact the Ministry of Justice which will tell us the way forward.
“We know our mother’s body very well. She had total gray hair with the country tattoos all over her hand, but the body they show us had black hair and not a single tattoo is on it, the face is very different from my mother face. I know my mother face very well, are they taking us to be fool.”
The LNP forensic team denied a journalist invited by the family from listening to the discussion. The team was also unable to resolve the issue because the family lawyers requested that the case be forwarded to court.
“We just want to see the right thing being done, because tomorrow they may also misplace other bodies like ours. We also want to call the attention of government to ensure that those who are operating funeral home be serious in taking care and arranging bodies at their sites,” Marcus noted.
Aaron Butler, who is said to be the manager of the funeral home, threatened to beat and destroy reporters’ equipment that had gone to inquire about the saga.
“This is not the only place you can get your news, go elsewhere. All the news outside, you can’t see it, only here. You are not the police and are not related to the family, so if you do not get out of this place we will make them beat your out and spoil that computer and cellphones in your hand,” Butler threatened.
“We are closing now, you get body here? You are very unprofessional, because if you were professional, you would have been gone long time. Leave my place now. I did not call you here and never invited you here, this is not government place, it’s our place. We do not want to speak with journalists,” added another unnamed female employee.