A Florida family is accusing a Riviera Beach funeral home of allowing an 11-year-old girl's body to rot for several days instead of properly refrigerating and embalming her, The Palm Beach Post reports.
Re'Asia Washington, a fifth-grader at Everglades Elementary School in West Palm Beach, died on January 22 from an asthma attack while she and her family were in Georgia. The family contacted Shawn Johnson Funeral and Cremation to transfer her remains back to Florida and prepare her body for a planned memorial service.
Last Thursday, Re'Asia's mother went to the funeral home to visit her daughter. Her attorney, Pierre Ifill, who is also Re'Asia's uncle, described what happened next.
"She noticed that (her) child looked nothing like herself. Her whole body had decayed significantly. It led us to believe that the body had not been properly preserved," Ifill says.
What's more, Ifill claims that an expert viewed the young girl's body and determined that it had not been properly embalmed, refrigerated or cared for. The expert described the body as appearing "mummified," with "pieces of skin peeling off."
The following day, on Friday, Re'Aisia's mother went to the funeral home and filmed a video of herself in front of the business, telling her Facebook followers -- and anyone else who would listen -- about the experience her family had with the funeral home.
"All I wanted to do was sit and have some time with my child. But you denied me that right," she said in the video, which you can see below.
Now, other families that have used the services of the same business, which has gained a reputation for being the preferred funeral home for victims in Palm Beach County homicides, are offering similar stories of their loved ones' remains allegedly being mishandled.
Ifill has promised to work with other law firms so that those families can get justice.
"We definitely intend to investigate this, along with other cases. We're going to hold them accountable to the full extent of the law, civilly and criminally," he said.
Meanwhile, the funeral home has been visited by officers from the Riviera Beach Police Department, who determined that whatever was going on inside isn't a criminal matter at this time.
A Palm Beach Post reporter noted that the windows of the building were locked, and that a notice, from Riviera Beach Fire Rescue, had been posted on the building, saying that an inspection was taking place. The notice didn't specify what was being inspected.