Grieving family horrified to find wrong body in casket during funeral

The family of Jerry Moon wants to know how the wrong body ended up in his casket at his Washington state funeral.

Family members were horrified Monday when they looked in the casket and saw the body of another man, The Chronicle reported Tuesday. They have hired a lawyer and asked the state Department of Licensing to investigate.

Moon, a retired railroad conductor from Castle Rock, died Oct. 13 at Community Home, Health & Hospice in Longview at age 72. Dahl McVicker Funeral Home, Kelso, picked up his body the same day. Brown Mortuary, Chehalis, transported the body from Kelso the next day. Everyone involved in handling the body says they followed procedures and can't explain the switch.

Moon's son, Brian Moon, of Chehalis, said he received a phone call from Ken Dahl, the president of Dahl McVicker Funeral Home. Dahl told Brian Moon he cremated his father.

"My dad feared cremation and didn't want any part of it," Moon said. "He spent a lot of time and money and he wanted to be buried next to his father and mother."

The family has the ashes and, if they are confirmed to be Jerry Moon's, they will be buried at Claquato Cemetery in Chehalis, where a graveside memorial was canceled after the mix-up.

Meanwhile, the man who had been scheduled to be cremated was dressed in Moon's clothes and placed in his casket for the funeral at Brown Mortuary Service, Moon said.

When the casket was opened, friends and family were shocked.

"That poor guy was dressed in my father's clothes in front of hundreds of people," Moon said.

The person in the casket was cremated and his family now has his ashes, Moon said.

Brown Mortuary was not responsible for the mistake, said manager Daniel LaPlaunt.

"We follow all state protocols for identification," LaPlaunt said. "We have to trust those people who we receive a body from."