Palm Beach News

Funeral Home Sued Twice for Mixing Up Ashes and Misplacing Dead Bodies

A Palm Beach County funeral home mixed up the ashes of dead bodies not once but twice in the past two months, according to two lawsuits filed in Palm Beach County court.

The latest incident started this past summer. Shaquille Burroughs Jr. died on July 5, not long after he was brought into the world. Tiesha Mack, his mother, made arrangements to have her son's funeral handled by the Taylor-Smith-West funeral home in Belle Glade. After paying the $600 fee, Mack thought she would get an urn with her son's ashes. But weeks went by and she still didn't have it.

Funeral home employees explained that they didn't get the ashes back from Edgley Crematory, where they claimed to have outsourced the cremation service. Tired of waiting, Tequilla Burroughs, the deceased child's grandmother, went to Edgley on August 6 to find out why there was a delay. But John Edgley, the owner, said he had never received an infant body from Taylor-Smith-West, according to the lawsuit.

When Tequilla returned to Taylor-Smith-West to inform them of the eerily confusing situation, they placated her with an urn full of ashes. The urn had a plaque that had Shaquille's name on it. But inside were ashes of a grown man, they claim.

The lawsuit, which was filed December 4, accuses Taylor-Smith-West of tortious interference with dead bodies, intentional or reckless infliction of emotional distress, and common-law fraud.

The owners of the funeral home could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, Mack isn't the only one currently suing the beleaguered funeral home for losing bodies.

Back on June 23, Ronda Mitchell entrusted Taylor Smith-West funeral home with her mother's remains and paid $3,500 for funeral arrangements, which was to include an urn and an ash-holding necklace.

But several weeks went by, and according to Mitchell's lawsuit, which was filed this past October, Taylor Smith-West gave Mitchell excuse after excuse as to why it was taking so long for them to give back the remains.

The funeral home's main excuse was that the urn Mitchell chose was not in stock and wouldn't be available for another few weeks. When Mitchell picked another urn, she claims, the funeral home said that wasn't available either. Fed up, Mitchell went to the funeral home on September 3 and requested to take her mother's ashes as is, "even if they were just in a box." The employees at Taylor Smith-West said they weren't allowed to do that, but they would show Mitchell the remains. And then they showed her some ashes -- but turns out those ashes weren't her mother's.

Just like Mack, Mitchell contacted Edgley Crematory, where Taylor Smith-West said it sent her mother's body to be cremated, but Edgley once again said it never received the body. New Times reached out to Edgley, but he did not want to comment.

Upon a closer look at the death certificate, Mitchell says it actually read "Eastedge Crematory," not "Edgley." It had a strikingly similar address. No Eastedge Crematory exists.

"Eastedge Crematory, Inc is a completely imaginary and non-existent entity," the lawsuit says, alleging that the death certificate was falsified by Taylor Smith-West.

Like Mack, Mitchell is suing Taylor-Smith-West for tortious interference with dead bodies and intentional or reckless infliction of emotional distress.

Mack v. Taylor Smith West Funeral Home

Mitchell v. Taylor Smith West Funeral Home

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Ray Downs
Contact: Ray Downs