Grieving families unable to retrieve loved ones remains from SW Houston funeral home

Daniela Hurtado Image
Monday, December 19, 2022
Grieving families 'ghosted' by SW Houston funeral home
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Both families have said they have paid the necessary bills but have not heard from the funeral home for weeks regarding their loved one's ashes.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Multiple families are grieving this holiday season after a southwest Houston funeral home has not released their loved one's remains to them.

This comes after they said they've paid their bills and have been waiting weeks for their loved ones' remains from a funeral home that is now not answering their calls.

The families told ABC13 that they'd tried repeatedly through email and calls to get answers from the owners of Wingate Funeral Home on where their loved ones are and when they can pick up their ashes to lay them to rest.

"Do they understand the pain that they're causing to all of these people that trusted them with something so precious?" Emily Zuniga, a woman waiting for her mother's ashes, said.

Zuniga lost her mother, Sarah Smith, in early November. It's been more than a month, and she says Wingate Funeral Home has not released her mother's ashes.

She feels she's been left in the dark with no response from ownership.

"It's already during such a traumatic time for us, and I just feel like this wound can't really close because I'm stuck in this loop of miscommunication," she said.

She tells ABC13 on Dec. 8 their point of contact at the funeral home, Raymond Cook, said her mother's ashes were ready.

When she tried to set up a time to pick them up, she said the representatives at the funeral home went radio silent. When Zuniga and her sister would show up in person, they would find the building locked with the lights off.

Zuniga and her family aren't the only ones who say they're experiencing these issues.

Clyde Thomas Hodges died in October, and his family, including his daughter Nicole Patrick, have been trying to pick up his ashes for weeks.

"I'm upset. It's very distressing. We put our trust in this funeral home to manage everything and act professional, and to just ghost us as they did, it's very upsetting," Patrick said. "My family and I are very distraught. It's been very hard. We just want our dad back. We want to know where his ashes are."

They say their calls and emails have yet to be answered. Their knocks were ignored.

The two grieving families say they've been doing everything they can for weeks to get their loved ones back. But they say they've been met with silence.

ABC13 reached out to Cook via email and phone, but there has been no response.

ABC13 also tried calling the listed owner of the facility, Jase Dixon, but so far, we haven't heard anything.

"It would be so simple for somebody to just give it to us. Everything's already paid for. Everything's handled. But if they're here, what's the hold-up? I just don't understand," Zuniga said.

According to Hodges' family, his wishes before he passed were to have his ashes spread in the Gulf of Mexico to honor his love for fishing.

Smith's family also plans to spread her ashes in the ocean because she loved the beach.

They both hope they hear from the funeral home and get to honor their loved ones.

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