Family of murdered Texas City woman pushing for new law on handling remains

Courtney Carpenter Image
Wednesday, December 22, 2021
Family of murdered woman pushes for new law on handling remains
When Crystal Patterson's family tried making funeral arrangements, they were told no. Instead, her accused killer, her husband, still had rights. What Crystal's family is trying to do now to make sure this doesn't happen again.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- In late November, 36-year-old Crystal Patterson was allegedly stabbed to death by her estranged husband, Brian Miller, while working at a Texas City convenience store.

"We would have liked to be able to go right in, say goodbye to my sister, and lay her body to rest instead of leaving her on ice for as long as he decided," explained Myriha Patterson, Crystal's sister.

After getting the devastating news, Myriha and Crystal's mom, Cyndi Bares, went to Texas City to make funeral plans only to be told they couldn't.

SEE ALSO: Estranged husband charged with murder after wife found stabbed to death at her job

"When we went to the funeral home, the director told me that I could not sign the papers to release her body from the coroner, that (Miller) would have to do that because he was married to her. Of course, my reaction was, 'Are you kidding me? He's the one who killed her'," explained Bares.

Even under these circumstances, the Texas Health and Safety Code applies.

"If there is nothing written down that directs someone what to do, the next person in line is that person's spouse," explained ABC13 legal analyst, Steve Shellist.

The family has started a petition in hopes of creating Crystal's Law, so that if a person is accused of murdering their spouse, they would no longer have authority over the body and burial process.

"If you kill your spouse, you have absolutely no rights after that to make any decisions on what happens with their remains. It just doesn't make sense. I am surprised it's not a law already," said Bares.

Shellist said this law could not be black and white, but perhaps written in a way that a family in this situation could ask a judge for a hearing to try to be granted the rights.

"I think it would be wise and fair to have something in the statutes that more squarely address this, and puts a process in place for a family to have an immediate solution after some sort of hearing," Shellist said.

As this family continues to mourn, they push forward in hopes of making a change in Crystal's honor.

"I think it would bring me peace, and Crystal would live on through that. Because of what happened to her, we are going to try to make it so it doesn't happen to someone else," said Bares.

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