Family alleges funeral home buried wrong baby during service - WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

Family alleges funeral home buried wrong baby during service

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LAUDERDALE LAKES, Fla. (WSVN) -- A heartbroken family who thought they buried their dead baby witnessed something that added to their anguish.

The family was mourning the loss of their son, Nefta Jabari Malcolm Jr. He was born premature and lost his battle on March 2.

The family laid flowers on what they thought was their child's final resting place. They even watched their child's casket being lowered into the grave.

The South Florida family claimed that when the service ended, workers at a South Florida cemetery switched caskets. After their service was complete, the family witnessed a cemetery worker bringing the casket back up from the burial sight. The worker then brought a different one from the funeral home.

The family said they knew something was wrong when the pastor provided to them by the Elijah Bell Funeral Home in Lauderdale Lakes referred to their deceased son as their daughter.

"They kind of rushed to stop the funeral and the service itself. And then I see them coming. They took the casket back out of the hole. The other hearse came in with my nephew and they put him out there. And then they asked us, do we want to do a service all over again, when we already thought that we buried my nephew," said baby Nefta's aunt.

The family members took out their cellphones and captured video and pictures of workers at the Elijah Bell Funeral Home switching caskets.

The funeral home workers weren't sure if the baby inside the casket was baby Nefta, so they had to open it and have the child's father verify that the dead corpse was his son.

"They called my brother over to verify my nephew's body. They had to open the casket to look at the baby before they put him back in the ground again. We were hysterical," said the child's aunt.

When examined closely, one of the photos taken of the casket being taken away has a pink blanket on it, which indicates that the child inside was a girl, not Nefta. The casket was then placed back inside of the hearse.

"They actually had the service. They buried the little girl. They brought the little girl's body back out, brought my nephew in, switched caskets. It's complete negligence on Elijah Bell," said baby Nefta's aunt.

Elijah Bell, the funeral home's owner, did not want to be on camera. He told 7News that there are two sides to the story and that the original casket was empty.

The family is not convinced.

"It was sad. I am hurting," said one family member.

The family said that now they have to deal with the death of their son, and will forever remember the horror of the casket mixup. They said that they will have to also deal with the memory of opening up the casket and verifying Nefta's corpse.

Elijah Bell Funeral Home refused to comment on the controversy on camera.

The family has spoken with an attorney.

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