Funeral director speaks on mix-up

SOUTH PHILADELPHIA - August 19, 2009 Horrified relatives of Kenneth Roberts couldn't contain their emotions Tuesday when they learned their beloved family member was lying in a casket at another funeral service across town.

"They kept trying to tell us it was him, but I knew it wasn't him and I told them that it wasn't him," the wife of Roberts, Janin Holsey, said Tuesday.

Francis Funeral Home Director Frankie Francis tells Action News it was simply a terrible error.

"It's a real unfortunate situation, I mean, I'm really sorry for what occurred. It was a mishap, a big mistake with identification of the bodies," Francis said.

Francis wouldn't say how the mix-up occurred.

However, even more troubling for the Roberts family, once the mix-up was acknowledged, Roberts' body arrived at the church naked, upside down, and partially hanging out of the casket.

"Upside down in the casket?" Francis responded to Action News when told of that particular moment.

Francis seemed stunned by those allegations.

He admits similar mix-ups have occurred in the past.

State corporate records reveal Francis owns several funeral homes in the area.

The Roberts family had no comment Wednesday.

Since the heartbreaking ordeal, the family has retained a lawyer and they've met with Francis shortly after Action News confronted him.

"We want to sit down and talk to them and see if we can see them through; I wouldn't want my family to go through this nor do I wish this on anybody else," Francis said.

Francis says he has no outstanding complaints against him and he is licensed by the State Board of Funeral Directors.

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