In one of the most bizarre cases of mistaken identity in recent state history, the Trenton area family of a missing woman in Philadelphia identified the body of a woman as their relative and held a memorial service and funeral for her. However, two weeks later, the missing woman was found alive at a mental health center in Philadelphia.
Sharolyn Jackson, a 50-year-old African-American woman in Philadelphia, was reported missing by her family in July. In late July, the body of an unidentified woman was found in Trenton. Photos of the woman were sent to Jackson’s family, who identified the woman as their relative. The family held an open casket funeral for the body and eventually had it interred at a Trenton area cemetery in early August. Two weeks later, the real Sharolyn Jackson was discovered alive and receiving treatment at a psychiatric facility in Philadelphia.
“We thought the nose of the woman [in the pictures] looked a little different, but [assumed] it was due to the embalming process, ” said David Minney, the father of Jackson. In a brief interview with the media after discovering his daughter alive, Minney said, “Everyone thought [the woman in the pictures] was Sharolyn.”
Police, the funeral home and other officials are investigating how such an egregious error occurred and are in the process of having the body of the unidentified woman exhumed and properly identified. The story has gone viral and generated dozens of comments from bloggers.
One posted, “Wow! The family didn’t notice [it wasn’t her] even with an open casket? Were there any life insurance policies out on her? Seems fishy to me!”
Another posted, “Did the funeral home check the ID tags before bringing whomever it really was to the funeral home?”
And finally, one blogger raised the always-controversial issue of racism and posted, “For years, people have said we all look alike and sent the wrong people to jail! Now we question the family!”