Huffpost Crime

Morgue Mix-Up Leads Mom To Believe Daughter Is Dead

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A medical examiner's office in Washington certainly has some explaining to do.

When Lori Baker went to the funeral home to view the body officials had identified as her child, she was stunned to find body in the the casket did not belong to her 24-year-old daughter, Samantha Kennedy, the News Tribune reports.

Apparently, the medical examiner had misidentified the body.

"Nobody should ever have to go through that," Baker told Fox affiliate KCPQ. "Every mother's worst nightmare is to be told that your child is dead."

According to local reports, officials arrived on Baker's doorstep in Lakewood on Monday and informed her that her daughter, who left home years ago, had been struck by a truck while crossing the street on March 14. The body of the woman, who was not carrying any form of ID at the time, had been identified based on a tattoo. (Baker previously informed authorities about her daughter's distinguishing mark when she submitted a missing person's report.)

It wasn't until Baker viewed the body Wednesday that she confirmed the error.

"Yesterday was a whole whirlwind of emotions, until me and my sister saw her and screamed, 'It's not her,'" Baker told ABC News.

The woman turned out to be 25-year-old Jade Nicole Aubrey-Peterson. Her family has been notified, the outlet notes.

So, how did this happen?

Pierce County Medical Examiner Thomas Clark explained that of the some 2,000 death notifications per year, many come in without identification. Though advanced protocols -- such as fingerprinting and DNA -- are used to verify identities, these methods are time-consuming and expensive, so identification is often "resolved by driver’s licenses and family identification of distinctive features, such as tattoos," he said in a statement released to several outlets.

He said officials are working to ensure a similar mistake doesn't happen again.

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