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Petty service to be held today

Woman was mistakenly buried in child’s grave

February 23, 2008
VIENNA —Services for 48-year-old Judith Petty will be held today despite her remains being mistakenly buried last week in a Jackson County grave as one of two young children killed in a fire in Jackson County.

Earlier this week, the state Medical Examiner’s Office admitted it mistakenly released some of the remains of a woman to the family of two Jackson County children who perished in a house fire, the Associated Press reported.

Last week Petty’s remains were identified after being found in a burned-out building in Waverly. Petty’s death coincided with the death of 2-year-old Victoria and 4-year-old Joseph Starcher, who perished in a house fire. Funeral services for the children were held Feb. 15 in Jackson County and Petty’s body was mistakenly buried in the girl’s grave, said John Law, spokesman for the state Department of Health and Human Resources.

Marvin Petty, Judith’s father, said he wasn’t angry with officials, despite the family not finding out until after a newspaper article revealed the mix up.

“I wasn’t angry, but I’m upset,” he said. “We all are.”

Services for Petty are slated to be held Saturday afternoon at the North End Church of Christ. Petty said officials told him it could be months before the remains are exhumed and laid to rest in the rightful place. Petty said part of his daughter’s remains were buried in Jackson County and some were also sent to Washington, D.C.

“It is going to be at least a couple of months before we get her remains,” he said.

Dr. James Kaplan, chief medical examiner, and state Bureau of Public Health acting chief Ron Forren informed the girl’s parents, Joseph Starcher and Tammy Scarberry, of the mistake on Tuesday.

‘‘I understand that they were extremely upset, as can be expected, but they were also very impressed that Dr. Kaplan took the time to personally drive to Jackson County and explain to them what happened,’’ Law said Wednesday. ‘‘They assured the family that DHHR would assume all the cost of exhuming the body, getting the right body to them and doing whatever we have to do to make it right.’’


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