Family may have been given wrong person's ashes

It was hard to hear the story through Jennie Salas's tears. She and her siblings lost their 64-year-old mother, Maria Alonzo, last month. The family had a memorial service earlier this month, and per their mother's wishes, she was cremated. The family has her ashes in a decorative metal urn, with the hopes of keeping them in that urn until their father passes away, then they would combine both sets of ashes together.

Sunday, Jennie says she got an email stating her mother's ashes were ready to be picked up, but ten days ago the family says they already picked up her ashes.

The family was confused, and decided to called FOX 11 to help sort it out.

Jennie, her brother Louie, and others came to the Panorama City Mortuary and asked about the details they received from the mortuary's email. They were told that Maria's ashes were shipped to Santa Barbara for some unknown reason, then they were told that was a mistake.

Since cremation is a tightly regulated industry, there is an ID number and metal tag that accompanies the body throughout the process, and the tag is included in the urn with the ashes. But for reasons of their own, the family didn't tell the employees at the mortuary that they'd already picked up some remains, nor did they bring the remains in with them provide the identification so records could be compared.

"Why should we tell them? It's their mistake," said Louie.

The mortuary and the funeral home that oversaw all of the arrangements at first were reluctant to talk to FOX 11 at all, then later said they were both confident this was simply a mistaken email that was sent out since an automated box was not checked correctly. They are sorry, but they are almost positive the family has the correct remains and their mother can rest in peace as they all want.

Now the family just has to follow up with the mortuary.