Society

Virginia Family Shocked To Find Wrong Man In Casket At Father's Funeral

| by Jonathan Wolfe

Funeral home horror stories. We hear about them from time to time, of course, but it never ceases to amaze that a business whose sole job is to prepare the deceased for a funeral can botch the job so badly.

The latest story comes from Fairfax, Virginia, where a family found the wrong man placed inside their father’s casket at his viewing.

The deceased man is 80-year-old Joseph Chapman, a retired U.S. Army Colonel who was set to be buried in his uniform at Arlington National Cemetery. But when Chapman’s twin arrived at the viewing, he immediately knew the man in the casket wasn’t his brother.

"His twin was here -- my uncle Alvin came from Tennessee. He immediately recognized it wasn’t him. The nose was totally different," Chapman's son, Jim McLean, told Washington news station WJLA.

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The stranger was even donning Chapman’s Army uniform and accolades.

“My dad’s uniform... that’s degradation beyond words for a military man,” McLean said. "This just isn’t right. This should never, never happen. This is something you read in a fiction novel or see in a movie on TV."

After hounding the funeral home for answers, Chapman’s family was told their father had been mistakenly buried about 70 miles away in Winchester, Virginia. A judge will now have to order an exhumation to have Chapman’s body recovered and properly buried in Arlington.

It is not known just how many funeral home body mix-ups occur each year, but these stories certainly make the news from time to time. In October, a Washington state family found the wrong man presented at their father’s viewing, much like Chapman’s family. To family’s horror, they learned that their father had not been mistakenly buried, but cremated. 

Sources: Huffington Post, WJLA, KOIN