Jerry Smith lost Delois, his wife of 32 years, to breast cancer, and nearly lost her again when a Bronx funeral home made off with her body without his knowledge or permission. Acting on Mr. Smith’s behalf, Attorney Carol L. Schlitt has filed a complaint with the NY State Department of Health requesting an investigation and the maximum penalty for McCall’s Bronxwood Funeral Home.
“I cannot believe the agony they caused – it’s as if I lost her twice,” said Mr. Smith. “Why would they take my wife’s body? What greed, what disregard for my wife’s memory could drive them to do this?”
Delois Smith lost her battle with breast cancer on January 26, 2004. The next day, her husband interviewed three funeral homes seeking the one that would best honor his wife’s memory. He chose the Ortiz Funeral Home, yet when their workers appeared at Albert Einstein Medical Center to retrieve Mrs. Smith’s remains they discovered that the body had disappeared. No one at the hospital knew what had become of Mrs. Smith.
Plunged deeper into grief, Mr. Smith frantically called funeral homes throughout the Bronx in search of his wife’s body. One call went to McCall’s Bronxwood Funeral Home, a service Mr. Smith had interviewed and rejected. McCall’s denied having his wife’s remains when in fact they were embalming her at that very moment. A long anguishing day passed before McCall’s Bronxwood Funeral Home admitted to taking the body and released it to Mr. Smith.
Mr. Smith’s attorney, Carol L. Schlitt, has filed a complaint with the N.Y. State Department of Health. “McCall’s Bronxwood Funeral Home took the body without authorization. They denied having the remains, and thus would not release the body. And they embalmed the body without authorization. All of these actions violated the law.”
Attorney Schlitt explained that her client wants the State Department of Health to investigate this case and enforce the maximum penalty. “We want to make sure that neither McCall’s Bronxwood Funeral Home nor any other funeral home acts with such reckless disregard.”
“They have soiled the memory of my wife,” said Mr. Smith. “We wanted to mourn her in peace. Instead, they increased out heartache.”