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Monday, July 22, 2024 | Back issues
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Family Says Mortuary Left Corpse in Garage

CHICAGO (CN) — An Illinois family claims in court that a funeral home lied about cremating their relative and kept her remains in an employee's garage for more than two years.

Following 50-year-old Brigitte Godfrey's fatal asthma attack in March 2013, her relative Regina Godfrey contracted on the family's behalf with Illinois-based Living Waters Funeral Home to have the body cremated, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in Cook County Circuit Court.

Members of Brigitte's church, Immanuel Baptist, paid the late Anton Godfrey, a Living Waters employee, $1,800 to "take care of things" related to the cremation, the complaint states.

However, Living Waters "did not render direct cremation services for Brigitte in accordance with the agreement," the family says.

According to Regina and Brigitte's son Mario Godfrey, "Brigitte's remains were never returned to her family" and they found out on Sept. 10, 2015 that her body "was wrongfully being held in the garage of Anton Godfrey" in Riverdale, Ill., just south of Chicago.

Four bodies, as well as someone's cremated remains and a "container of organs," were found in Anton's garage and removed by authorities that week, after his wife found them just days after he himself passed away, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Anton was not licensed to provide funeral services in Illinois, and received "multiple court orders to cease and desist his in-home mortuary practices," Illinois State Police reportedly said.

Records from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation reportedly show Anton was fined $10,000 in 2013 for running an "unlicensed practice of funeral directing and embalming."

Mario claims in the seven-page lawsuit that he "has been seeing a psychiatrist since he found out about his mother's body."

"Defendants lost, disposed of and handled Brigitte's remains in an unlawful, unauthorized manner in violation of the contract," the complaint states.

The eight-count complaint asserts claims for emotional distress, consumer fraud, breach of contract, violation of the Crematory Regulation Act, and negligence.

Living Waters could not be reached for comment Monday.

The plaintiffs are represented by Kellie Walters with Walters O'Brien in Chicago.

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