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Heartbroken widow who turned her husband’s ashes into jewellery told his body was found in freezer

Another woman believes her father’s coffin was empty ahead of his funeral service

Holly Evans
Wednesday 13 March 2024 19:11 GMT
Police outside the Legacy Funeral parlour on Anlaby Road in Hull

A grieving widow is among the family members who have been left devastated after she was told police had discovered her husband’s body in their freezer.

Officers removed the bodies of 35 people and the suspected ashes of others from a funeral directors and said they are investigating a “truly horrific incident”.

Following her husband’s death in July 2023, the widow and other relatives including his daughter and granddaughter had paid a substantial amount of money to have his ashes turned into crystal jewellery.

Police confirmed 35 bodies had been removed from the premises (Getty Images)

A friend of the widow told The Telegraph: “But now they have found out that he wasn’t cremated and he has been in the freezer all this time.

“Apparently, the police have told them that he could have only been frozen under the direction of the coroner.

“The widow is distraught. The family thought they had his remains, and are now asking, ‘If it’s not him, then who is it?’”

The family has allegedly been informed they will have to reidentify the body of their deceased loved one.

Police carried out a raid on Legacy International Funeral Directors in Hull after concerns were raised for “care of the deceased” at three branches.

Humberside Police pledged to put the “heartbroken families” of those affected at the core of their investigation and told a press conference they had received more than 1,000 calls from concerned members of the public.

More than 120 police officers and specialist staff are working on the case, while a 46-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman have been released on bail after being arrested in connection with the inquiry.

Flowers and tributes left outside one of the funeral branches (Getty Images)

Another woman, who lost her father Andrew, 52, and brother Dwane, 34, in the space of five days, is now convinced she kissed an empty coffin in her last goodbye.

Billie-Jo Suffill, 33, also now fears that her brother’s ashes may be those of someone else. She said: “I never actually got to see my dad’s body. I bet my dad was not even in the coffin – it was an empty coffin.

“I was kissing an empty coffin. When I think about it now it is disgusting.”

Deputy chief constable David Marshall told reporters in North Ferriby on Tuesday: “We are continuing to support the families involved through this extremely difficult and distressing time.”

He said families were “understandably distraught” and acknowledged there were many questions that needed to be answered.

He added: “Many will be shocked, horrified and retraumatised through grief following the disclosure of the facts of this case this week.”

Humberside Police have received 1,000 calls from concerned members of the public (Getty Images)

Officers cordoned off three Legacy Independent Funeral Directors sites after the force received a report on Wednesday of concerns about the “storage and management processes relating to care of the deceased”.

The bodies were removed between Friday morning and Saturday evening, with formal identification now taking place at Hull’s city mortuary.

Emma Hardy, MP for Hull West and Hessle, told BBC Radio 5 Live it had been a “complete shock to me and complete shock to the community”.

She said: “Everybody’s just reeling from it. People are not quite believing that something’s happened and there are hundreds of questions, which I completely understand everybody has at the moment.

“There are lots of different questions around ashes, around people who are still living and have plans with the company and, of course, questions from the families very closely involved.

“It’s impacted everybody.”

Following reports on Wednesday that graves at Chanterlands Avenue Crematorium in Hull were being exhumed, Humberside Police said they were not digging there. A spokeswoman said: “ At this stage, this isn’t something that has formed lines of enquiry.”

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