Tallahassee mother takes legal action against funeral home after months without son’s ashes

Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 11:11 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - A Tallahassee mother is taking legal action against a Gainesville funeral home, after months of not receiving her newborn son’s ashes.

“These last four months have been complete torture,” said Deondra Williams. Her son died at 26 days old after being transferred to UF Shands Hospital in Gainesville. At that point, Williams said the hospital referred her to Forest Meadows Funeral Home for complementary cremation services.

“But now, I haven’t been able to properly heal,” said Williams. After months of unreturned phone calls, Williams and her attorney filed a formal complaint with the state’s division of funeral, cemetery, and consumer services.

“It’s a term called tortious interference with a dead body, and so funeral homes - undertakers - are held to a higher standard,” said Williams’ attorney Anthony Thomas. “There is a degree of professional standard that I think the funeral home did not take.”

After our original story aired, Williams told WCTV that Forest Meadows tried contacting her, telling her they cremated her son on Friday, March 24. “I got instantly sick to my stomach. I just couldn’t believe it,” said Williams. “I was just shocked that after it aired on the news, all of a sudden, you’re calling like ‘here’s your baby.’”

Williams said the funeral home told her on March 17 that the cremation machine was broken, and it would not be fixed until March 28.

Now, she plans to continue calling for justice for her son and other families. “I wanted to be able to just use what I’m going through - in the midst of my grief and in the midst of my mourning - to help another parent,” said Williams.

WCTV’s Staci Inez spoke with Forest Meadows on Thursday; however, the person overseeing infant cremations would not answer any of her questions about the situation. She also spoke with UF Shands, sharing multiple questions, but was told no one was available to comment.