Family Discovers Son was Cremated After 'Missing' for 2 Years
By Rusty Surette, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- An Oklahoma mother said her son will never rest in peace after her son's body was cremated without their family's permission.
Amber Bernstein's son, Anthony, passed away on September 20, 2007, but she said she never knew that until last year. That's because for two years, Anthony was missing. What happened in those two years is still somewhat of a mystery, but there are bits and pieces Bernstein said she has been able to piece together.
Bernstein said her son was picked up in 2007 for a probation violation and placed in the Oklahoma County Jail. While he was there he became ill and was taken to a hospital where he died. After that his body was cremated.
"I go, 'Cremated? He can't be cremated. You have to die. You can't just be cremated.' They burned him," Bernstein said.
Bernstein's family said they are furious because nobody told them about Anthony's death and nobody asked about the cremation, something the family opposes because of their Jewish faith.
"That's all I thought about ever since. They burned him, just like Hitler. Sorry," Bernstein said.
The family said they blame the State's Medical Examiner's Office, because it's the agency that issues permits for cremations, but a spokeswoman for the agency said it followed proper procedure.
"We issued the permit and that was it. This was not a case we investigated. We issued their permit," said Cherokee Ballard, State Medical Examiner's Office spokesperson.
The M.E.'s office said it's not responsible for notifying families on cases it does not handle, and Anthony's case is one handled by another agency, but Bernstein's attorney disagreed. She said if the M.E.'s office is going to sign off on a cremation permit, it should verify that all parties have been notified of what's to come.
"They failed in their duty, in their duty of doing a basic investigation in finding family members who've been here all their lives," said Jaye Mendros, the Bernstein's attorney.
The M.E.'s office said the agency handling the death of Anthony Bernstein is the one that should have notified the family. It is unclear as to whom that other agency is exactly and if there was a mistake made.