Ohio woman Nancy Bronner shocked after finding son's ashes in Walmart bag

AMELIA, Ohio - Nancy Bronner said, even at the age of 15, her son knew he wanted to be cremated.

When T.J. Mitchell died at 17 of cardiomyopathy last September, there was no question among the Amelia family members how his body would be handled.

"It's difficult to talk about him," Bronner said. "He was my best friend."

But what Bronner discovered shortly after her son's funeral still disgusts her a year later.

"I just wanted to hold my baby one last time. So I opened the urn, and found a Walmart bag in the urn. The funeral home had put my son's ashes in a Walmart bag."

Bob McDaniel is the Grant County coroner and the funeral director at McDaniel Funeral Home in Dry Ridge, Ky., where Mitchell's remains were delivered following the cremation. 

McDaniel said in a phone interview that the family asked him to divide T.J.'s ashes into four containers, which was something he typically did not do.

The family did not provide bags for the inside of the containers, and the container did not seal. In an effort to make sure the ashes did not spill, McDaniel said he "used bags that I had."

McDaniel said he trimmed the bags to remove any logos or print identifying the department store.

Bob McDaniel and his wife Lila, the funeral director and embalmer according to their website, turned down the request for an on-camera interview.

Thomas Mitchell, T.J.'s father and Bronner's ex-husband, defended the funeral home's decision. Mitchell still keeps his son's ashes in the original shopping bag.

"It could have been [bad judgment to use the Walmart bags]," Mitchell admits. "Was anything done maliciously? No…It may have been a split second lack of judgment, but they were also looking out for our best interest because the containers we provided did not seal."

That explanation is not good enough for TJ's mom, who said she is in therapy to deal with her son's death.

Bronner went to a funeral home in Loveland and had her son's ashes transferred into a clear plastic bag.

"I don't care who you are, it's not right to put a human person's ashes in a Walmart bag…It is still disrespectful. You don't do that to a parent who has lost their child. You don't do that to anyone. I just want to make sure that this never happens again to another person," Bronner said.

Bronner said she has contacted the Kentucky Attorney General's Office and the Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors to file complaints.

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