Covering Kentucky

Dec 19, 2013 10:45 PM

Woman Claims Foreign Funeral Home Mixed Up Woman's Body

Losing a mother is hard enough, but imagine it happened in a foreign country, and when the body was shipped home, someone else was lying there. That's what happened to an Estill County woman.

On Thursday Joanne Chaney recounted the horror of what happened after her mother died.

Margaret Porkka was on vacation in Sint. Maarten when she passed away on Thanksgiving. Thursday night her daughter learned Porkka's body was sent to Canada by mistake and cremated. Now, Chaney wants to know why.

"We were devastated because we thought it was going to be mom and then it wasn't," said Chaney. It's a nightmare no family should face. Looking into a loved one's casket and seeing a stranger.

"He said that's your mom, and I said no it's not," recalled Chaney. While Porkka passed away peacefully, it's been nothing but chaos since. "It's unbelievable, if it didn't happen to me and my family I would find it hard to believe," said Chaney.

Chaney said the funeral director in Sint. Maarten, at the Emerald Funeral Home, refused to let the family see her mother. Chaney said the hospital showed no record of her death, and her passport mysteriously went missing.

"It's kind of like they are covering it up or something," said Chaney. Finally Chaney said a death certificate was issued to the United States Embassy saying Margaret Porkka was "a man." However by then, the family just wanted her home.

"She is in Heaven there is no doubt about that, it's just we would have liked to seen her one last time, to say goodbye," said Chaney. Instead she was met by a stranger and got a heartbreaking call Thursday night.

"I am devastated that she was cremated and it wasn't on our terms," said Chaney. Now she and her family are fighting for answers, but said they find comfort knowing they will meet again one day in Heaven. "Someday I will see her again though... Someday," said Chaney.

LEX 18 News tried calling the Emerald Funeral Home in Sint Maarten to hear their side of the story, but we were unable to get through to their business.

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