LEWIS COUNTY, Wash. - Jerry Moon's already-grieving loved ones are being traumatized again after they say they found someone else's body in Moon's casket.
Moon was 72 when he passed away at the Community Home Health & Hospice in Longview earlier this month. His body was supposed to be moved to Lewis County for a funeral and burial.
Moon's son, Brian Moon, said relatives discovered the mix-up during Moon's service at the Brown Mortuary in Chehalis Monday. When the casket was opened, Brian Moon said a plastic bag was over the corpse's head.
Moon said when it was removed, relatives immediately knew the body was not Jerry Moon's.
Moon's son said staff at Brown Mortuary tried to convince the family it was Moon's remains.
Relatives pointed out the man in the casket had hair. Jerry Moon was bald at the time of his death.
Brian Moon said someone from the mortuary told him Tuesday they were given the wrong remains.
"I have this enormous pit in my stomach," he said.
He had no interest in viewing his father's body in the casket.
"He died in my arms," he said.
Moon said his father died after battling bladder and colon cancer.
Moon had pre-paid for his own funeral so the family would not be burdened by his death.
He had planned to be buried beside his mother, father and two brothers. His family said that can't happen now.
"If whoever is responsible doesn't feel the repercussions then maybe this will happen to someone else again," said Brian Moon. "I can tell you it put a permanent dent in me."
He said the mix-up has made his grieving process much worse.
No one from Brown Mortuary would comment on the incident to KING 5 News, but in an interview in the Centralia Chronicle, Daniel LaPlaunt, who manages the Brown Mortuary Service said the incident is being investigated, including how the body got to the Chehalis facility.
According to the Centralia Chronicle, LaPlaunt said, “We follow all state protocols for identification. Everything is spot on. We have to trust those people who we receive a body from. That is what is so frustrating, but we are taking complete responsibility.”
Greg Pang, CEO of Community Home Health Care & Hospice, said his employees followed all procedures to ensure Moon's remains were properly identified to the people who removed them.
The Washington state Department of Licensing is investigating.
Moon said he was told by someone at the funeral home that his father had been cremated, something Moon said his father was "terrified" of.
The family has hired an attorney and may take legal action against the facilities that handled Moon's remains.