A Brooklyn family has filed a claim against a funeral home after they claim their loved one’s body was improperly preserved before her homegoing service. During the ceremony, the family alleges a maggot crawled out of the woman’s eyes, ruining the farewell to the loved one.
On Friday, Aug. 5, attorney Kurt Robertson filed a lawsuit in a Brooklyn Supreme Court on behalf of the family of Regina Christophe against the McManus Funeral Home at 4601 Avenue N in Kings County, New York.
Despite her dying of natural causes on June 24, the family of the 37-year-old planned to have the funeral on July 9, almost two weeks later. Their desire was to push back the memorial in an effort to afford other relatives from Florida a few weeks to prepare their expenses for the unexpected trip to New York City.
They hired the John J. McManus and Sons Funeral Home to take care of the arrangements.
According to the Daily Mail, the family says funeral home secured Christophe’s body from the undertaker on June 28, but in their negligence poorly took care of the corpse once it was in their custody.
The deceased’s mother, Chantel Jean, said when the actual service transpired, the funeral home did not complete the services they were supposed to perform, leaving her daughter’s body to decompose, skin on her face to appear to have “melted” off and a maggot crawled out of the woman’s eye socket.
The bereaved mother said, “Her face looked like it was caved in. Actually, it looks like it was burned as fake skin was like melting off her face, one eye maggot came out of her eye.”
In addition to her body not being well maintained, she was not displayed inappropriate clothing.
The family shared with the public photographs of the deceased, including some that showed her final outfit was dirty, with stains on it and her face was distorted – not presenting the beautiful person with the biggest smile her family had ever known. The mother and Christophe’s boyfriend described her as having an “unrecognizable body,” that was in part wrapped in garbage bags.
“The last image I saw was a monster in the casket,” she said before adding, “An animal deserves a better funeral than what my daughter received.”
The family said they could not understand why she looked so bad since she died peacefully in her sleep.
“The evidence strongly suggests she had not been embalmed, that she had been decomposing over the two weeks she had been at the funeral home,” Robertson said to the New York Post.
“Apart from all, it was just the incredible stench of the decomposing body that permeated the funeral home.
“It doesn’t look like a person at all,” the lawyer contended. “It looks like a mud monster.”
Before entering the funeral, Christophe’s two children, a 16-year-old and a 6-year-old were stopped by their grandmother, who did not want the kids to see what their mother looked like and that be their lasting memory.
No one could go in, as her body’s decay smelled up the room — preventing them from even having a closed casket ceremony. They ultimately had to remove the casket from the space.
The relatives decided to only display a photo of Christophe during the service.
ABC News reported Jean said, “The people that were supposed to be there to celebrate her life left. The way the body looked in the casket and the stench.”
Jean says did not see her child until the day of the funeral.
“They told me I couldn’t see her the first time because she was naked,” she said. “I said OK. The second time didn’t have her makeup on.”
According to the family, on the day of the ceremony, she could not find anyone at the funeral home that could tell her what had happened, particularly why Christophe’s body had decomposed.
The funeral home maintains they did the best that they could for the woman, saying they gave the family “fair warning.”
A funeral manager said there is blame to go around for everyone regarding the condition of factors for the condition of the woman’s body. One thing to consider is the time her body was left in the heat before it ever got to the medical examiner.
Another factor is the duration of time the body spent at the examiner’s office.
One report noted the funeral home picked up Christophe’s body from the medical examiner approximately four days after it was ready.
“I was devastated by this whole thing,” manager Anthony Tenga stated. “By what she looked like. It was a real disappointment to me professionally and personally.”
The owner of the business said, “I thought I gave them fair warning … we did the best we could.”
Robertson believes the funeral could have done better, stating, “Without question, there should be an investigation. I have never see anything like this.”
“The family took photos of Regina immediately as she passed when the examiner took her,” he said. “The medical examiner only had her for two days, when the family spoke with the funeral home after the fact, there was no mention of any state of decomposition or anything like that.”
As a result, he says his client has been unwell.
“She has been depressed, she has had to seek counseling, she’s had some pretty dark thoughts, to put it mildly,” Robertson said. “She’s been in a very dark place as a result of that.”