MURRAY — As Kim Goodsell left the crematory cradling a small wooden urn, she still wondered if the remains inside were really those of her brother.
Her brother, Kevin, 49, passed away in Stockton, California, earlier this month.
After traveling out to say goodbye, Goodsell arranged for a California crematory to send her brother's remains and pieces of his bone and hair to Utah.
But when the remains arrived last Friday, she discovered the crematory had sent her the wrong person.
"Nobody can live with this amount of grief and turmoil that we’ve gone through," she said on Monday.
Goodsell noticed the mistake on Friday after she brought the unopened package to Jenkins-Soffe Funeral Home and Cremation Center in Murray. She wanted to transfer the ashes to an urn designed to grow into a tree, to honor her brother's work as an arborist.
Funeral director Roger Wilcox took charge of transferring the remains. But when he looked for the other bone and hair fragments Goodsell requested, he couldn't find them inside the package.
When Wilcox told Goodsell about the missing pieces, she noticed her brother's name wasn't on the paperwork.
"I said, 'We've got a problem. This isn't my brother. This is for someone named Brian. My brother's name is Kevin,'" Goodsell said.
The remains she had received should have been shipped to New York. When Wilcox called A Bay Area Crematory, they found her brother's remains were still there.
"It’s been unbelievable and very hard. I can’t even put it into words," Goodsell said. "There are so many emotions that run through you, but you really can’t put it into words. You really can’t."
The crematory offered to refund half the cost of services and ship the remains overnight to Goodsell's home in Taylorsville. When Goodsell asked the crematory to also pay for the shipping, the crematory initially refused.
"I don’t even have my brother and you’re squabbling over shipping fees," Goodsell said, adding that she felt angry about the argument. "A simple check could’ve stopped so much grief."
She said the director called her a few hours later from a blocked number, offering his condolences and any refunds she needed.
But Goodsell said she was tired of the misunderstandings and plans to file a legal complaint against the company.
She finally received with her brother's remains Monday morning.
"I still doubt," she said. "Is it still really Kevin?"
A Bay Area Crematory did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
"That’s something that doesn’t happen very often. It’s very unusual," Wilcox said. "This is a serious business I'm in, so we try to be very cautious. We’re constantly working with families and doing our best to make a bad situation better."Comment on this story
Her favorite memory of her brother is his love for working in trees as an arborist.
"That and playing jokes on me. And it looks like he got the ultimate last one," she said with a small smile.
Her family is Native American, and her brother owned a medicine pouch. Goodsell is working on getting the pouch sent to Utah, where she can keep fragments of her brother.
She is also considering a DNA test on the bone and hair fragments.
"I hope I have my brother," Goodsell said. "I want to make sure my brother is finally home."
Contributing: Ladd Egan