11-year-old Re’Asia Washington is described by her family as a "genuis" who was a straight A student and the love of her parents lives. She believed in donating her time to community service, feeding the less fortunate for Martin Luther King Jr. Day and wanted to be a pediatrician when she grew up. Re'Asia had high hopes and aspirations and wanted to accomplish each one. She would never get the chance.
Re’Asia, a fifth-grade student at Everglades Elementary School in suburban West Palm Beach, suffered a fatal asthma attack Jan. 22 during a family trip to Savannah, Georgia.
To add to this family's horror, the funeral home they entrusted Re'Asia's remains to, failed to properly handle her body and that act, left her grieving mother in a state of disbelief. Her family says that the Shawn Johnson Funeral and Cremation facility neither embalmed nor refrigerated the child’s body properly, allowing it to reach a state of severe decomposition.
Via Palm Beach Post:
"The family filed a complaint with the Florida Department of Financial Services’ Division of Funeral, Cemetery and Consumer Services, said Pierre Ifill, Re’Asia’s uncle and a Georgia-based attorney.
Ifill said the family hired Johnson’s business to return Re’Asia’s body from Georgia and prepare her remains. But when the child’s mother viewed the remains during a visit to the funeral home Thursday, she found them to be unrecognizable.
“She noticed that (her) child looked nothing like herself,” Ifill said. “Her whole body had decayed significantly. It led us to believe that the body had not been properly preserved.”
Re’Asia’s mother posted a video Friday morning on Facebook from outside the funeral home detailing the unrecognizable state in which she found her daughter.
“All I wanted to do was sit and have some time with my child,” she said in the video. “But you denied me that right.”
Ifill said the family learned through an expert who viewed the body that it had not been properly embalmed or refrigerated. He described Re’Asia’s body as having become “mummified,” with pieces of skin peeling off.
The family was forced to cancel a viewing and instead held a memorial service without Re’Asia’s body on Saturday, he said.
“As an uncle, I’m heartbroken,” Ifill said. “I’m saddened. I’m angry. I’ve got so much emotion running through me.”
No one has been able to speculate exactly what happened to Re'Asia's body and why it was in such a state of decomposition. However, we can only speculate that her remains weren't kept at the right temperatures for preservation.
The funeral home has been known to do work for Palm Beach area homicide victims and has been an integral part of the community. It's owner, Shandelrio "Shawn" Johnson was pictured in a 2015 calendar featuring female morticians, the “Mortician Moms,” and is part of a network of women, the “Funeral Divas,” who ran their own funeral homes.
The funeral home is currently under investigation and not doing any business. Riviera Beach Fire Rescue had posted a notice of inspection on one of the doors but did not specify what it was inspecting.
The family of Re'Asia Washington has filed a complaint with the state and is seeking unspecified damages.