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‘Her Skin Was Coming Off’: New York Family Sues Funeral Home, Claiming It Left Deceased Loved One Unrecognizable

“Her skin was coming off, she had a maggot coming out of that one eye,” said Chantel Jean, the mother of Regina Christophe.

Chantel Jean says she is both heartbroken and angry at a Brooklyn, New York, funeral home who left her daughter unrecognizable.

“Everybody who came before me, left, all her family and friends who came left, they couldn’t take looking at her and they couldn’t take the stench,” Jean described of her deceased daughter’s body lying in a casket.

The family of Regina Christophe, 37, spoke out in outrage of the poor condition Christophe was left in by the John McManus funeral home. In response, the funeral home refunded the family its near $6,000 bill, but the family is hoping their lawsuit filed over the funeral homes mishandling of their loved one’s body will help make things right. 

“This isn’t the first offense with this funeral home, it was just sloppy work on their part,” said Kurt Robertson, the attorney hired by Christophe’s family.

Christophe, a mother of two, died in her sleep on June 24, 2022, Robertson says her cause of death is still being investigated, but in the two-week span from the time she died to the day of her memorial service, her body decomposed because of what the family says was improper care from funeral home staff.

“When they’re looking at that person in that casket, they should be looking close to when they were alive, not looking like a monster, not looking like their skin was coming out of their face,” Jean said.

The lawsuit filed by the family against the funeral home accuses the funeral home of not properly embalming and preserving Christophe’s body and failing to update the family of the body’s condition prior to the memorial service. Jean says family members came in from other parts of the country only for the lasting image of their loved one to become a nightmarish scene.

“The core of our claim against the funeral home stems from what took place then and there,” Robertson said.

Jean says the family ended up having a closed casket service because of Christophe’s condition.

“I had to stop my grandsons from coming in and seeing their mother like that,” she said

Atlanta Black Star contacted the John McManus funeral home for answers on their alleged mishandling of Christophe, and we were told, “no comment.”

However, News 12 in New York reports the funeral manager blamed multiple factors for Christophe’s poor condition, including, “the duration the body was in heat before it was brought to the medical examiner and the amount of time it was at the examiner’s office.”

The funeral home did not take custody of the body until four days after she died even though the medical examiner reported the body ready the day after she died. News 12 went on to report the funeral home manager said it waited four days to take possession of the body because it was awaiting payment from the family.

“At the end of the day, the funeral home put the body in the casket, the funeral home put the body out for display, it was displayed in their premises,” said Robertson.

Jean says since the last time she saw her daughter in the casket, she has been suffering from anxiety and she hopes the lawsuit brings the family some semblance of accountability from the funeral home.

“I relive that all the time, that’s the last image of my daughter that I’ve seen,” Jean said.

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