FedEx mocked over Twitter apology for losing package with human remains three years ago

The parcel, containing the skeletal remains of Jeffrey Merriweather, has been missing since it July 2019

Johanna Chisholm
Monday 18 July 2022 18:05 BST
A spokesperson for FedEx reiterated that ‘shipments of this nature are prohibited within the FedEx network’
A spokesperson for FedEx reiterated that ‘shipments of this nature are prohibited within the FedEx network’ (Getty Images)

A FedEx Twitter account that seems to provide automated responses for shipping concerns and queries found itself apologising for a missing package last week – however, the parcel in question had been missing for three years. Worse yet, it contained human remains (which is, importantly, against the company’s own rules).

On Thursday evening, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution shared an article on their own Twitter account with a caption that matched the story’s title: “Man’s body still missing 3 years after Georgia medical examiner shipped it via FedEx”.

Shortly after the article was sent into the ether, the blue-check verified FedEx Help account responded to the tweet. Whether it was in fact triggered by some combination of words used in the caption, or it was a real person behind the screen responding to the article, the somewhat inane and out-of-touch remark led many to begin to speculate whether the account was being managed by a bot.

“I am truly sorry you went through this experience. Please send a direct message so I can continue assisting you. - Gaby.”

The tweet from the FedEx Help account then spurred a series of Twitter users to start trolling the account they suspected was being kicked into action every time it detected a specific combination of words using “FedEx”.

“Gaby he was delivered to my cousins house. Currently in freezer. Please reach out for information,” tweeted one user in response to the account’s first tweet, which led the same account to respond with a separate customer service agent – this time “Marta”.

“Hello there, My name is Marta. I apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced. Please DM me your full name, tracking number, delivery address, phone number, and email address. I would be happy to take a look into this for you,” the account said.

The original tweet sent in response to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution article has since been deleted by the company. The Independent confirmed that the original error was in fact a human one.

“We removed several company responses to this tweet that were made in error. We apologize for the mistake and are committed to preventing this type of issue from occurring again,” said a spokesperson for FedEx.

The original issue that spurred this online flurry was an article written by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, who had reported about a separate controversy involving the shipping company.

On 5 July 2019, an 18.6 lb box containing the human remains of Jeffrey Merriweather was shipped from the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office to a St Louis lab for additional testing.

The office had reportedly tapped the out-of-state lab for assistance in the investigation into Merriweather’s cause of death, as they were struggling to find an answer as to why the 32-year-old’s body had whittled down to a near-complete skeleton less than two weeks after he was last seen alive.

According to the court documents reviewed by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the 32-year-old’s skeletonised body was found behind a home on 22 June 2019 in southwest Atlanta. The court said in the records that Merriweather had died as the result of a drug deal gone awry and was ultimately shot and killed.

Merriweather’s family reported the man missing shortly after the shooting, the Journal-Constitution reported. When his 34-pound-skeleton was found just 10 days after the last time he was seen alive, they found it hard to square the circle that his death had been the result of simply a shooting.

“Since he was partially skeletonized, we couldn’t determine a cause of death,” former Chief Medical Examiner Jan Gorniak previously told Channel 2 Action News.

The remains were then reportedly sent to an expert in St Louis and a letter dated on 27 June 2019 shows the Fulton pathologist inquiring about the Missouri-based medical examiner conducting a further analysis.

The box containing Merriweather’s skeletal remains was then reportedly shipped on 5 July 2019, according to a receipt viewed by the Atlanta-based news outlet, in a small box and cost $32.61.

The parcel was apparently supposed to arrive in two days. More than three years later, it’s still undelivered and remains untraceable.

In response to the article written by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a spokesperson for FedEx reiterated that it is in fact illegal to ship human remains across state lines using their service, as the US Postal Service is the only mailing service legally qualified to carry out this highly specific service.

“Our thoughts and concerns continue to be with the family of Mr. Merriweather. We request that further questions be directed to the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office. Shipments of this nature are prohibited within the FedEx network,” a spokesperson for FedEx said in a statement.

The Independent reached out to the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office for comment on the incident but did not hear back immediately.

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