South Side funeral home lost mother’s body, woman says

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A South Holland woman said her dead mother’s remains might have been buried by the wrong family because of a mix-up at Leak and Sons Funeral Home. | Sun-Times file photo

A South Holland woman said her dead mother’s remains might have been buried by the wrong family because of a mix-up at Leak and Sons Funeral Home.

However Monique Williams said she still can’t be sure the South Side funeral home found her mother’s remains. Its staff allegedly presented her with multiple bodies as she prepared to honor her mother’s memory over the weekend. Ella Mae Rutledge’s funeral Saturday became a memorial service when her body couldn’t be found, Williams said.

“As far as I’m concerned, I buried my mother (Saturday) when I had her memorial,” Williams said. “This is now her shell that will now be buried at a later date.”

Leak and Sons did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday.

Williams said she arrived at Leak and Sons with other members of her family Friday evening to approve the body before her mother’s visitation. But when staff presented the remains to her, she said she thought, “that don’t look nothing like mom.” She said she pulled back the wig and found black hair underneath. Her mother had gray hair.

She said staff at the funeral home began to show her other bodies — and put her mother’s dress on at least one other corpse — in a frantic attempt to find Rutledge’s remains.

“When we left there at 10 p.m. we still didn’t have my mother’s body,” Williams said.

They also showed her a picture of a body that had been buried Friday, which has since been exhumed. But Williams said she might require a DNA test to be sure it’s her mother. Williams said she tended to her mother every other day at a nursing home where her mother spent the last two years of her life. She also said she saw her mother’s body after she died Oct. 31.

Williams also said the ordeal has left her skeptical of the funeral home.

“I cannot trust you that this is her,” Williams said.

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