California family seeks answers after funeral home declines request to see their stillborn child’s body before building bursts into flames

A California couple said they never saw their baby’s remains again after sending her body to a funeral home for cremation last summer.

Jamahl and Shavonne Morton said they wanted to take one last look at their stillborn daughter to honor her. They used the Akes Family Funeral Home in California nine years ago when they cremated their first daughter and were able to see her body at the time.

“But this time it was like an excuse,” Shavonne Morton told The Insider.

Tiny feet newborn. (Getty Images)

The couple called the funeral home for weeks. Eventually, someone called back and told the Mortons that Jamila’s body had started to decompose and they didn’t want to see her in that condition. However, Shavonne said she learned early on that her baby didn’t have a heartbeat and she decided to push the body out so her two sons could also say goodbye to the baby they bonded with in her womb for 22 weeks.

“I went through the whole birth and birth so I would have it intact,” the mother said. “I was like, ‘I can’t have her dismembered.'”

Shavonne Morton told the insider she plans to scatter Jamila’s ashes over the ocean. Her husband considered keeping her, and they also considered holding a memorial service.

“That was our last closure, and because of that, I felt deprived,” she said.

The undertaker told the family they would be in touch once the cremation was complete, but the Mortons said they had never heard from them. After numerous calls were answered, Jamahl Morton finally decided to go in person.

When he arrived at Akes’ location in Corona, California, the staff informed him that the remains were at his location in Riverside, California. In Riverside, he learned that the morgue had burned down in November, five months after Jamila’s body was transferred there.

According to fire investigators, the fire was caused by “faulty wiring”. Reports show several electronic devices were plugged into an outlet that was “completely burned out”.

“The cords entering and exiting the outlet were burned through the insulation and bare wires were exposed,” the investigators wrote.

Jamahl said Riverside staff told him the bodies were safe and that someone would be contacting them. The incident report shows that first responders had to remove bodies from the building while fighting the fire.

The Mortons have not heard from the funeral home since and have now hired a lawyer.

“This is so crazy. Now you’re telling me they had a fire, so I’m not sure anything happened to their remains,” Shavonne Morton said. “I dont know what to think.”

Akes told the family lawyer that the body was cremated last August.

“I don’t know what to believe. I don’t know if this is my daughter. It’s been so long,” Shavonne Morton said. “We just deviate from what they said. But I’m just like, ‘So how do I know these are her remains?’ It’s just sketchy. I do not know. I just feel like something is just not right.” California family seeks answers after funeral home declines request to see their stillborn child’s body before building bursts into flames

James Brien

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