CHICAGO (CBS) — A West Side funeral home owner was answering tough questions about the handling of a family’s loved one – missing until we got involved.
As CBS 2’s Jermont Terry reported Tuesday, the family paid in full for a funeral service and cremation – yet, the owner of the Pickett Funeral Home said you can’t blame him, because the remains were missing in the mail.
In a video call, Duval Rankins displayed the way his brother’s cremated remains were finally returned to him.
“My brother came home in a f***ing blueberry box,” Rankins said. “Who does that?”
But that was only the tip of the iceberg as far as problems that had Rankins infuriated. He had spent weeks looking for his brother’s cremated remains.
“He was totally disrespected,” Rankins said.
The Pickett Funeral Home on Chicago’s West Side handled Chester Rankins’ services back on Sept. 3. The family wanted Chester Rankins cremated and shipped to them in Nevada, and that’s where the errors started.
“We had been in contact well over a month, and I’m talking calling three, four times a month,” Duval Rankins said.
And even when the family came to the Pickett Funeral Home, they were told that Chester’s remains had not been shipped yet.
“That was in the beginning of October,” said family member Marcell Chenault.
Two months after the services, Chester Rankins’ cremated remains were missing. Brian Pickett, the owner, said he shipped the cremains in the mail in a cardboard box once used to ship blueberries – but Pickett could not find the tracking number for weeks.
“You say it’s misplaced, but again, I know the receipt is in a certain area and I will continue to look for it,” Pickett said when Terry asked if he would take responsibility for misplacing the receipt.
But remember, that was after two months of not knowing for the family.
Five minutes after we sat down with Pickett, he called Terry back – the tracking receipts had turned up.
It turned out Chester Rankin’s remains sat in the Post Office in Nevada for three weeks waiting on the family to pick it up – but they couldn’t do so without a tracking number.
“‘Just give us the tracking number to the box’ – they wouldn’t even do that until you guys go involved,” Duval Rankins said.
Remember – the family called Pickett in early October, yet the receipt showed it wasn’t mailed until Oct. 21.
Terry: ”How could they have received it three weeks ago when it wasn’t shipped out until after they called?”
Pickett: “No… wait, no.”
But Duval Rankins does not believe the remains were ever missing in the mail.
“Because he didn’t! He hadn’t mailed them off!” he said.
Pickett insists this is the first time he has had any problems shipping cremated remains in 17 years operating. On Tuesday night, Chester Rankins’ family said the funeral home finally called them back asking how they could make this right for them.
UPDATE: The Rankins family reports the funeral home offered them $500 and a free urn. The family turned the offer down.