Family: Funeral home refuses to turn over dead body

A family is fighting with a funeral home for the custody of its deceased loved one.

Family of 69-year old Sharon Lende said E.F. Drum Funeral Home in Lincolnton refused to give up her body when the family wanted to switch funeral homes for the process and service.

"I wouldn't wish this on my own-worst enemy," daughter Shannon O'Neill said.

O'Neill said the funeral home is requesting $1,700 from the family, for charges it is not completely aware of.

"I never got a price list, I never got told of how much anything was," O'Neill said.

This is a big no-no according to the North Carolina Board of Funeral Services. Its regulations read, in part, "...refusing to surrender promptly the custody of a dead human body...upon the express order of the board" may result in the board revoking or suspending that funeral home's license.

The family said it did not have a good feeling about the funeral home after initial inquiries.

E.F. Drum would not answer questions when contacted by FOX 46 Charlotte. A woman answering the phone said, "Excuse me, I don't have to answer any questions, whatsoever," before hanging up.

E.F. Drum has a C- rating with the Better Business Bureau.

The family adds, it was at Harris Funeral Home in Kings Mountain when it called E.F. Drum and decided to switch services. The family said they turned their conversation on speaker phone when conversation of the $1,700 charge began.

The funeral director at Harris confirms to FOX 46 Charlotte he was present for this conversation, it happened and that it's "Textbook 101" wrong to not turn over a body -- regardless if money is involved.

If the funeral home continues to not turn over the body and allow the family to have a different service pick it up, the board tells FOX 46 Charlotte the family can get a court order.

All of this, while the family waits to bury its loved one.

"No family should have to go through with this," O'Neill said. "No family, and I will see to it."

The family reached out to FOX 46 Charlotte after our investigation began and said the funeral home is now willing to release the body if they sign some paperwork.


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