CAMDEN, NJ (WTXF) - A Camden woman says her decision to have her sister's remains cremated left her angry and confused with more questions than answers.
"I just want my sister." Wyanet Shareef was nearly inconsolable when FOX 29's Bruce Gordon spoke to her in the living room of her Camden, NJ home.
More than three months after the death of her 44-year-old sister Wingi, “I feel disrespected,” she said. “I can't even mourn for my sister. I don't know where she is."
Shareef says when Wingi died she went to the Carl Miller Funeral Home in Camden to make arrangements to lay her sister to rest.
"We wanted a cremation,” she recalled. “I wanted to put her urn in my house and give one to my two nephews and that was that."
Wyanet says she received a phone call verifying the procedure and was told the urns for the ashes were on back order. She was told to wait.
Frustrated over the lack of updates, Wyanet says early this month, her daughter called the funeral home for information about the ashes and the urns. She says their response left her stunned.
"'We actually don't have-—we can't even locate a Wingi Johnson,'” she quotes the funeral home official as saying.
As for her sister’s cremated remains?
"They don't have 'em." she said.
"Disbelief,” was how Shareef described her reaction. “Anger. I was hurt. That's the biggest thing-—I was hurt."
Shareef admits she and her daughter got confrontational on the phone, which is why the call they received from the funeral home the next day or so left her shaking her head.
"'Oh, we were looking up the wrong name,’” she says they told her. “’We found her.'"
"I don't believe them. I need them to prove that that indeed is my sister. As far as I'm concerned, it could be anybody's, just to send me on my way."
Gordon went to Carl Miller Friday afternoon, looking for answers. Funeral home officials would not agree to talk to him on camera, but did allow him to see and photograph the cremated remains, or "cremains," of Wingi Johnson.
They could not explain why an employee would have said they were lost, but what they showed Gordon appeared legitimate—the appropriate remains, tagged with a five-digit registration number linked to the box with Johnson’s name and account information on it.
As for those long-overdue urns?
Officials at Carl Miller tell Gordon they’ve been assured by the company with which they do business, that they’ll arrive in Camden on Saturday.
The funeral home says they will hand-deliver the urns—with the cremains inside—to Wyanet at her home. Finally, a small measure of closure.