Chattanooga family shocked to find wrong person placed in casket during visitation

Benjamin Brown Jr. passed away one week ago after a long battle with diabetes. (Courtesy the Brown family)

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WTVC) - Imagine the shock of visiting a funeral home to say a final goodbye to a loved one, but when you look in the casket, who you see is not your loved one. That is exactly what one Chattanooga family says happened to them Wednesday.

Benjamin Brown Jr. passed away one week ago after a long battle with diabetes.

On Wednesday, Brown's nephew Dominique said the family went to the John P. Franklin Funeral Home for the visitation.

Dominique says his family saw the casket they had picked out and his uncle's clothes, but the clothes were on the wrong person.

"They had to take the clothes off the other guy and put them on my uncle," said Dominique.

Brown lost his legs due to complications with diabetes. That's one way Dominique knew for sure this wasn't his uncle.

"Open up the casket, if this guy has legs, that's not my uncle. Open the casket, you see legs and nice slacks," said Dominique.

Dominique and other loved ones called the rest of the family to tell them what had happened.

Jasmine Mateen is one of those family members. Mateen has had an incredibly difficult year, as her daughter Zyaira was killed in the Woodmore bus crash last November. That was the last time her family had a funeral at John P. Franklin.

"I feel like with all this is going on, they should be more sentimental with the fact of what's surrounding and what our family is going through," said Mateen. "We already have the one-year anniversary."

Now, almost a year later, she and the rest of her family are mourning the loss of her uncle and trying to sort out what they call a big problem.

"We feel real disrespected," said Dominique. "There's nothing they can do to fix this problem."

Family members told NewsChannel 9 they've used this funeral home plenty of times in the past without any issues. They said they plan on talking to lawyers about what they should do next.

NewsChannel 9 called the funeral home several times Wednesday to get its side of the story. The home would not answer questions but sent the following statement:

The service for Brown will go on as scheduled Thursday, Nov. 16 at 1 p.m. at the Prospect Baptist Church.

Depend on NewsChannel 9 to update this story as we learn more.

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