Under a probate court order, the body of a 93-year-old woman who died nearly six years ago will soon be exhumed from Lake Park Cemetery for expert examination in support of a lawsuit by two of her daughters against the funeral home that handled arrangements.
The body of Rose White, who died July 24, 2008, will be disinterred from the Boardman cemetery as soon as the ground thaws, according to William McGuire of Warren, the lawyer for the daughters.
McGuire made that statement Thursday during a pretrial hearing before Magistrate Dennis Sarisky of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.
McGuire represents Mary Jane Patton of Youngstown, estate administrator, and Lilly Mae Curtis of Greenville, Pa., who sought the disinterment in their civil lawsuit filed in 2011 against the Shriver-Allison-Courtley-Weller-King Funeral Home.
Mark Belinky of Mahoning County Probate Court, who resigned as judge March 14, had approved the disinterment March 4, after Judge Maureen A. Sweeney of common pleas court ruled jurisdiction over the exhumation lay with the probate court.
Belinky ruled that Patton and Curtis must pay the cemetery’s $2,400 disinterment and re-interment charge and the additional cost of vault removal and any fees of Sterling Williams, the local funeral director who will examine the remains.
In their exhumation request, Patton and Curtis said they want a licensed embalmer’s evaluation of the body’s position and the stitching of the deceased’s eyes and mouth and the embalmer’s opinion as to the “handling and/or abuse of a corpse” and “wounds to the body after death.”
They said they want their expert’s opinion as to whether the handling of the deceased met professional embalming standards.
They said a defense expert could also examine the body before it is reinterred.
The funeral home’s lawyer, Kurt R. Weitendorf, did not oppose the exhumation request, but said the funeral home did nothing improper.
In affidavits, family members said they saw stitching of the deceased’s eyes and mouth, which they said breached their contract with the funeral home.
“Horrifying the family was visible stitching to the eyes and mouth with dark thread,” the lawsuit said.