A Chicago family was shocked when they discovered a funeral home had buried the wrong body a day early.Relatives of Ella Mae Rutledge, 74, were devastated after staff at the Leak and Sons Funeral Home misidentified and buried the wrong body. Monique Williams, Rutledge’s daughter, said she first realized there was a problem when she noticed the fingernails of the body were different than her mother’s as she paid her final respects.

Monique Williams was shocked when she discovered her mother's body had mistakenly been buried.

CBS Chicago

And when she checked the woman’s head, she noticed dark hair — unlike her mother’s gray hair, reported the Chicago Tribune. “We said, ‘This doesn’t look nothing like Mama,'” said Williams, 48, of South Holland, Illinois. “We knew she would look different but we said, ‘Man, she can’t look that different.’ She had none of my mother’s characteristics. I can’t even grieve.” Monique Williams was shocked when she discovered her mother’s body had mistakenly been buried.


Spencer Leak Sr., owner of Leaks and Sons Funeral Home in Chatham on the city’s South Side, said an employee mistakenly tagged Rutledge and the other body.”We made a tragic mistake, one that I regret and that I take full responsibility for,” he told ABC7 Chicago. “Eighty-three years in business, and this is the first time dealing with someone erroneously interred.”

The other family had mistakenly identified Rutledge as their mother, and held a burial ceremony at Mount Hope Cemetery on Friday afternoon. Rutledge’s body has now been exhumed and returned to the funeral home, Leak added. Rutledge died Oct. 31 after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for several years. Williams and family held a memorial service instead of the funeral Saturday at the Greater Mount Carmel Missionary Baptist Church, but the family are not planning on another funeral. “This was too much. My father is totally distraught,” Williams said.




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