Missing man's family learns of his death after burial

HOUSTON We first told you about Ray Emmons, 84, last week. His family had been searching for him for weeks after he went missing from his southwest Houston apartment.

Ray was a World War II GI where he fought in France and was a prisoner of war, held by Germans and liberated after a year. Ray returned to Texas and in recent years lived at a senior complex near Bellaire. A bachelor without children, his closest relatives were his nephew and his wife.

"We usually contacted him once a week at least and my husband would go down and have lunch with him at least once a month. Unfortunately, we got busy," said Doreen Emmons.

When his family went to Ray's apartment, they found the calendar that he used to mark off the days. The last entry was November 15. They contacted hospitals, including the Houston VA Medical Center and were told he was not a patient.

On Monday, a family friend went to the VA and saw Ray's vehicle in the parking lot. That's when the mystery unraveled.

"A perfect stranger to us got all the information about what day he was there, what day he died and that they had already buried him," said Doreen. "We were a tad bit crushed."

A VA spokesperson released the statement saying, "We attempted to contact the next of kin listed in the medical records. Unfortunately, the number was disconnected. The staff researched all the patient's health care notes in an attempt to find a working number, sadly this was also unsuccessful. In an attempt to honor the veteran, his life and his service to our country, an honorable and dignified service with military honors was held at the Houston VA Cemetery on December 11."

The family though says there were phone numbers inside Ray's wallet, which they have now collected from the hospital. Those numbers, they say, were never called.

Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.