In Baltimore, a woman paid a funeral home to cremate her deceased husband and conduct a memorial service, but she alleges that the employees buried her husband at the request of a second woman claiming to be his wife. In her lawsuit against Wylie Funeral Homes, Demetra Street claims that after the January service, funeral home workers quickly took the urn away and refused to give it to her when she asked for it.
According to the Washington Post, Street believes that the ashes of her husband, Ivan Street, weren’t in the urn because the funeral home had buried Ivan at Baltimore’s Mount Zion Cemetery three days earlier at the request of the other woman claiming to be the deceased man’s wife. Demetra alleges the funeral home profited off both women, a claim the funeral home president Brandon Wylie denied in an interview with the Baltimore Sun.
“Due to restrictions imposed by our confidentiality requirements and the existence of pending litigation, we are not at liberty to disclose all of the information relevant to this matter,” Wylie told the Sun. “However, we vehemently deny the claims advanced by Ms. Street and assert that the underlying matter was handled with the utmost sensitivity toward the loved ones of the deceased.
The Post was not able to independently identify the second woman claiming to be Ivan’s wife, so her name was not revealed.
Here is more on the story, per the Post:
On Jan. 9, 2021, Ivan Street died suddenly from congestive heart failure at 67, according to the lawsuit. Demetra and Ivan were separated and living apart at the time, Coffin said. Records reviewed by The Washington Post show that, legally, Demetra Street was Ivan’s wife at the time of his death.
Demetra went to the funeral home on Jan. 13, identified Ivan’s body and provided her marriage certificate to prove she was next of kin. Street then entered into a $2,500 contract for Ivan’s cremation and a memorial service with the funeral home.
Shortly after, however, another woman allegedly told the funeral home she was Ivan’s wife. She provided the funeral home with a marriage license from October 1997 that was lacking a seal, according to the lawsuit, which claims she insisted that Ivan be buried.
The funeral home’s employees then notified Street that another woman was claiming to be Ivan’s wife. Street, the suit claims, told them to ignore the woman, who she said had no authority to make changes to the funeral plans.
But the funeral home decided to follow the other woman’s instructions instead and bury Ivan, Street claims. When Street protested to one of the owners by phone — identified in the lawsuit as “Mr. Wylie” — he allegedly told her: “So, what are you going to do about it?”
Shortly after, however, the funeral home appeared to make an about-face. A staffer notified Street they would, in fact, reject the other woman’s instructions to bury Ivan and schedule a cremation and memorial service as Street requested.
So Ivan’s memorial commenced. Programs were printed identifying Demetra Street as Ivan’s wife. The photo and urn were placed for all to see.
But despite Street’s “repeated requests that she receive Ivan’s ashes, Defendants refused to allow her or anyone else to obtain the ashes or to see the funerary urn once the Memorial Service had concluded,” the lawsuit states.
A few days later after the service, Demetra claims that a funeral home staffer emailed her to explain that her husband had been buried. When she called to speak with Wylie, she allegedly hung up on her.
The Post did verify that Ivan and Demetra Street were legally married in 2016 and were in the middle of divorce proceedings in 2018, but the process wasn’t complete before his death.
The lawsuit claims the woman claiming to be his wife wrote a message on Ivan’s remembrance page January 20.
“To the memory of my beloved husband,” she wrote. “You were my best friend. The many loving memories I have of the [time] we shared will forever comfort me in your absence. … You will be sorely missed my love.”