Reporting Andrea Menniti
STOCKTON (CBS13) – A family hit with a double whammy was forced to cancel a funeral during the event and was delivered a casket basically made out of material from a hardware store.
“I know it was devastating for me,” said relative Stella Williams.
Dozens gathered at a graveside memorial service to lay Ricky Cook to rest.
But as family waited, the casket carrying Cook’s body was nowhere to be found.
“He didn’t show up at the cemetery at all, no body,” said Williams.
Relatives blame Reggie Thompson, the owner of Thompson Memorial Chapel in Stockton for the burial blunder.
The family was forced to cancel the funeral that was in progress and left wondering what happened to their loved one’s body.
“We had no idea where our brother was. It was a sad situation,” said Williams.
The funeral was postponed five days.
“People from out of town working and had already taken off, how are you going to tell your boss that you are taking off for a second funeral for the same person?” said Williams.
Relatives say when Thompson finally delivered the casket that “the casket was not a casket.”
“It was a box that was covered with blue felt, we asked him to open it to make sure my brother was definitely in the casket,” said Williams.
The blue parchment-board casket looked nothing like the bronze one relatives say they picked out and paid for.
The family told Thompson to leave.
“It was not going to be a comfortable situation for him to be there to see we are trying to grieve and be upset all at the same time,” said Williams.
Earlier this week the district attorney’s office filed a pair of felony charges against Thompson for allegedly ripping of senior citizens who prepaid for funeral arrangements.
After seeing the story, Cook’s relatives called police to share their story
“You don’t want to see other people go through what we’ve gone through,” said Williams. “There were a lot of people who didn’t get the type of closure they needed.”
Police continue to investigate potential victims. Some are criminal cases, others may end up being civil cases.