Where’s the Body?

A Bronx Woman claims a local funeral home lost her sister’s body

What’s known is that Luz Maria Sanchez died suddenly at age 48, September 14th, in her home in Brooklyn last year. What happened to her remains afterward is not as clear.

Luz’s sister,  Alfrida Rodriguez, of the Bronx, says she she hired R.G. Ortiz Funeral Home in the Bronx to cremate her sister’s remains. Since then, she claims in a lawsuit,  R.G. Ortiz hasn’t delivered the ashes—or even returned any of Rodriguez’s phone calls.

R.G. Ortiz Funeral Home, 524 Southern Blvd, Bronx (Faith Woodard, NYCityLens)

But Michael Ortiz, the funeral home owner, says he reached out to Rodriguez numerous times, telling her over and over again that her sister’s remains were ready for pickup. “She never shows up,” Ortiz said of Rodriguez. “The body’s been sitting here ever since.”

Now the matter is apparently heading to court.

“The family is heartbroken,” Rodriguez’s lawyer, Jesse Minc said. “And the actions of this funeral home and the way they treated this family was absolutely callous. My client called many times and got no response.”

Minc said his client paid $150 for the cremation last September. So far, he said, all they have is a receipt of the services rendered, as well as documentation from the New York City medical examiner’s office saying the body had been released to the funeral home.

 

Pictured are the remains of Luz Maria Sanchez, according to funeral home director Michael Ortiz. (Faith Woodard, NYCityLens)

Ortiz, the funeral director, said the body was indeed cremated under his possession, that he still has the remains, and that he has no plans to discard the remains any time soon.

Ortiz, who’s been in the business for more than 50 years, said that this type of thing doesn’t happen often, but he’s seen it before in his line of business.

“She was just here with Channel 2 News,” Ortiz said “Right out there giving an interview. The reporter came in to talk to me and I said, why doesn’t she just come in and get the ashes?”

“You think she came in? No,” he said.

Pictured is the cremation authorization form that Alfrida Rodriguez signed on September 22, 2017 to cremate her sister. (Faith Woodard, NYCityLens)

The longtime funeral home owner has more than 20 parlors across Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, and manages thousands of funerals per year across the city. 

On the other side, Rodriguez’ lawyer says he sent a letter to the funeral home in December. Then, “I called them in January and I got no response. The minute I sued them and the media got wind of the story, now all of a sudden they have something to say,” Minc said.

“The claim that they reached out to my client is simply ridiculous. We’ll find out who’s telling the truth in litigation,” Minc said.

Rodriguez said through her lawyer that she did not want to comment. 

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