It was a funeral faux pas.
Family gathered for the funeral of a Washington man opened his casket to say a final goodbye — but were shocked to find another body had been placed in the coffin.
Relatives said that the body of 72-year-old Jerry Moon was not only misplaced but — against the man’s wishes — was cremated.
“This makes me feel like he was treated as a number, not a person,” the man’s daughter, Cheryl Moon, told KIRO-TV.
The family opened the casket after a memorial service on Monday and found the corpse wearing Moon’s clothes and a plastic bag over its head. A picture of Moon with his wife, Jan, was tucked under the pillow.
But when they pulled the bag off the dead man’s head, they saw a stranger — who they later learned was a 97-year-old who died at the same time as Moon inside the Community Home Health Care & Hospice center in Longview.
Moon died at the facility following a long battle with bladder and colon cancer.
“I turned around and said to myself three times: ‘That’s not him, that’s not him, that’s not him,’” the man’s son, Randy Moon, told the news station.
Officials at the hospice center said they believe someone switched the bodies after they were sent to Brown Mortuary, where Moon’s remains were cremated.
“My father was terrified of being cremated,” said another son, Brian Moon.
He said his father wished to be buried in a plot with his mother, father and two brothers.
But a manager for the mortuary told the Centralia Chronicle that the incident is being investigated.
“We follow all state protocols for identification,” the manager, Daniel LaPlaunt, told the paper. “Everything is spot on. We have to trust people who we receive a body from. That is what is so frustrating, but we are taking complete responsibility.”
The family has hired a lawyer to consider any legal action.
“The only other thing I can say is we know where he really is,” Randy Moon said. “We’re a believing family, and we believe he is in heaven.”