Family alleges funeral home mistakenly cremated their mother in Arizona

ByNicole Grigg, KNXV
Friday, March 3, 2023
Family alleges funeral home mistakenly cremated their mother in Arizona
Joann Stephens died November 15 last year after a long road with dementia.

PHOENIX, Ariz. -- There is no other way to describe what Jason Glenn is going through but he's choosing to remember moments like this.

"This is her sassy look," Glenn said.

His mother, Joann Stephens, died November 15, 2022, after a long road with dementia. He and his family started the process to honor and remember her.

"The casket, the color scheme -- and all of it -- was going to be to her liking because it was something we talked to her about long before this day," he said.

However, according to a complaint filed in Maricopa County Superior Court on Monday, the family showed up to Eastlake Mortuary in Phoenix last fall to finalize arrangements for the funeral service when they were told that there would be no memorial because Stephens' body had been mistakenly cremated the day before.

"To this day when I say those words exactly how he gave it to us, it brings chills because you don't really have a response," her son said.

The complaint also states that Stephens had stated before she passed that she did not wish to be cremated, and that it was against her beliefs.

"The night she passed, I just rubbed her and said I'm going to see you one last time. I'm going to get you dolled up -- she loved her lipstick -- going to get the lipstick, makeup, beautiful gown for you, going to get that funeral you always said you wanted," Glenn said he promised.

The lawsuit alleges that the mortuary agreed to prepare Stephens' body for viewing, including embalming, dressing, cosmetics and hair styling, provide a casket for the viewing and arrange for the viewing at a nearby church.

The lawsuit alleges a breach of contract but does not include a copy of any contract.

Jason said he didn't get a full reason as to why she was cremated.

"She would clearly say even in her dementia state that 'you're not going to burn me up.' She said 'I've been good all my life' and she'd say I want a beautiful funeral," Glenn said.

The complaint also alleges concerns over if the ashes are Stephens'. No proof or verification of the identity of the cremains were ever provided to the family by the defendants

"I don't have any tags, or anything say these are her ashes. There's just so many unanswered things here," Glenn said.

As for the mortuary, a lawyer for them called ABC15 and said they would not comment because they have not formally been served a lawsuit.

There is a funeral board in Arizona that takes complaints like this but ABC15 has not heard back yet if one was filed in this case.