Monday, August 23, 2010
Help Me Howard: Is Daddy Dead?
Her father died and no-one would tell her where he was buried. She started searching for him and hit one roadblock after another, and that's when a South Florida woman called Help Me Howard. To find out if she had a right to know where her dad was buried and if Patrick and Howard could find him. Here is their story.
WSVN -- This is one of the strangest stories we have ever seen.
Jemeena Grimes: "I just want to know where my dad is."
Jamenna's father is Samuel Higgs. In March he had a heart attack, Jameena's mother rushed him to the hospital. Then later, a woman walked in claiming she was Samuel Higgs' wife.
Jemeena Grimes: "She went to the hospital and told the hospital not to talk to me, not to give me any information."
The woman had married Samuel in 1969, but according to the clerks office records, Samuel had gotten divorced in 1974, Jameena says that's when he met her mother.
Jemeena Grimes: "Did they consider themselves husband and wife, yes, absolutely, and my children are the only grandchildren that my father has."
Jameena says her mother and father were together for over 30 years, but never married. The woman who claimed she was still his wife wouldn't let them visit Samuel in the nursing home and then they got a call from someone, they assume was a nurse.
Jemeena Grimes: "She told my mom, I am not supposed to do this, but I am going to tell you anyway, that he passed away two days ago."
Jameena immediately called the woman who said she was still married to Samuel, begging her to know where her father was going to be buried, so his daughter and grandchildren could come to the funeral.
Jemeena Grimes: "She told me, these were her exact words, 'The last time you saw him, was the last time you were ever going to see him.'"
Jameena and her family can not find out where Samuel is buried. In fact, none of his life long friends have any idea where he was laid to rest.
Jemeena Grimes: "I don't know where my dad is and I go through my phone every day and I see his name in my phone and I want to call him and I can't. I want to call him so bad."
And that's when she called Help Me Howard, to see if she had a right to know where her father was buried.
Howard Finkelstein: "Legally a family member or friend does not have to tell you where someone is buried, but you don't need them. People may not know it, but death certificates are public record, anyone can look at them and find out where the dead person remains are located."
Death certificates are kept at the County Health Department. Samuel Higgs showed he was buried in Fort Lauderdale at this cemetery. According to the death certificate, the woman who buried him is Mamie Higgs, his bride in 1969.
On a conference call with Mamie and her son, they told me the Samuel Higgs who divorced Lottie M Higgs in 1974 was a different couple, and that Mamie was still married to her Samuel.
When I asked why they blocked Jameena and her family from knowing where he was buried, they said, this is a family issue.
That we are private people and did not want them there. They tried to tell me that even though Samuel told people he was Jameena's father, that he actually was not. That added there is a lot we don't know and can't be told.
But family disputes aside, Jameena had a right to know where her father was, and so we took her to his grave.
Jemeena Grimes: "No headstone. I got to get him a headstone."
She immediately called her mother.
Jemeena Grimes: "He's here mom."
Jameena told me she had prayed that somehow her father was alive, sick in a nursing home, but at least she says she can now bring her mother and children to his grave.
Jemeena Grimes: "I got a little bit more closure now, because this has been real, real hard not knowing."
She knows, but for every question we answered about Samuel Higgs' life, another popped up. With Mr. Higgs dead, we may never know all the answers.
Was Samuel Higgs divorced in 1974 or was he still married. The clerks offices records don't exist, meaning we may never know for sure.
If you have some answers, here are our numbers. I would love to know.