On Your Side: Family asks for help after discovering cremation mix-up


On Your Side: Family asks for help after discovering cremation mix-up

A family turned to Six On Your Side after discovering a cremation mix-up.

Their father was known in Columbus as "Mr. Lucky." His name was Bobby Shaw and if you attended local jazz clubs back in the day, you probably heard him play.

"He was well-known in Columbus, Ohio," said his son Berl Shaw. "Well-known musician. Played with a lot of different bands. Ella Fitzgerald. Duke Ellington."

Berl said Bobby is in the Columbus Jazz Hall of Fame and made music right up until the day he died on March 26, 2006.

Bobby was cremated, and his life celebrated.

"My sister got the remains and she took everything back up to Cleveland with her and just kept things in the box and things the way it came," said Berl.

Ten years later, she happened to turn over the urn.

"She noticed the wrong name on the bottom of the urn and after noticing that, she contacted the funeral home."

The funeral home suggested she open the urn, and compare the tag inside to the one on the bottom. The names were the same. But neither name was her dad's. So they contacted the family of the man whose name was on their father's urn, thinking maybe the urns got mixed up. The same name was on that urn too.

"So here we are now with two sets of ashes, and two urns, with the same person's name on it and our dad's tag, ashes, or name is nowhere to be found," said Berl.

Berl says he tried to get answers. The funeral home owner promised a response in a few days. That was in November.

"That's why I contacted you guys, because it got to the point where we just [weren't] getting anything done with them," he said.

Capitol Crematory is no longer in business, but we tracked down a former owner who provided some paper records. It turns out that when the company cremated someone, a numbered metal identification disc accompanied the body throughout the process. The number on the document the crematory gave to us, matches the number on a document we got from the funeral home, and is the same number that's on the metal disc inside the Shaw's urn.

That means there's no doubt the Shaws have their father's cremains.

Berl is relieved, but says even his easy-going jazz-playing dad might have a difficult time forgiving the funeral home and crematory.

"This is their profession. This is what they do every day for a living. How could you possibly get someone's ashes mixed up with someone else's?" he asked.

Metal identification tags are not required under Ohio law, but most crematories use them.

It's a good idea to ask a crematory about their identification policies when making arrangements and double-check that you've got the right cremains.


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