We’ve all had the misfortune of sending or expecting to receive a package or letter, only to be disappointed because it seemingly vanishes into thin air. I, for one, firmly believe there’s a Bermuda Triangle-ish area somewhere in a remote warehouse that manages to swallow up all the things that mysteriously go missing . . . but what do I know?
That recently happened with some signs I ordered for the building in Savannah. I had a tracking number. The seller had paid for insurance. Everything should have aligned so our package would arrive safely. Except it didn’t. Last time I checked the delivery company’s website, it indicated our package was “in the US”. It left the distribution center on May the 9th. And it’s still floating around. Somewhere. In the US. The seller filed a claim, received payment, and re-shipped the signs.
As frustrating as it is to deal with the unreliable nature of routine mailing, imagine, if you can, the agonizing situation in which the parents and children of Jeffrey Merriweather now find themselves. For those who are unfamiliar with the story, Mr. Merriweather’s body was discovered in an abandoned house in Fulton County, Georgia ten days after he was reported missing,. Protocol dictated his remains be sent to the medical examiner’s office for that county. And they were. But the medical examiner had questions he couldn’t answer, specifically why Mr. Merriweather’s body had decomposed so drastically after only ten days. When he was found, all that was left was approximately 34 pounds of mostly skeletal remains.
The next stop for Mr. Merriweather’s body should have been a facility in St. Louis where additional, more advanced testing was to be performed. But instead of sending his body by air, as is customary with the deceased who are required to travel, or through the United States Postal Service, as is customary—and legal—for an individual’s ashes following cremation, the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office used FedEx, a carrier that is not legally allowed to transport human remains in any way, shape, form, or fashion. That was in 2019.
Three years later, Mr. Merriweather still has not arrived in St. Louis.
This all came to light after the Atlanta Journal-Constitution began to investigate. Their report caught the attention of FedEx who, for some unknown reason, decided it was a good idea to address the matter on Twitter with what was probably an auto-response. “I am truly sorry you went through this experience. Please send a direct message so I can continue assisting you.” It was signed by “Gaby”. This is where a face palm would be in order. To their credit, they eventually recognized the error of their ways and deleted the tweet . . . and several others that were equally inappropriate.
When contacted, a representative for the company stated such a shipment should never have been accepted. But it’s entirely possible FedEx didn’t know what they had. I’m not sure how you tactfully bring that up in conversation while you’re filling out the required paperwork, but if no one asked . . . and no one told . . . then no one at FedEx with the authority to decline the package knew to do just that. None of the available information indicates the size of the box used for shipping, so it’s difficult to understand what went wrong . . .
. . . except that they lost Mr. Merriweather and have been unable to locate his remains for three years.
That’s three years his possible murder has not been addressed.
That’s three years his family has been waiting for answers.
That’s three years his parents and children have waited to say goodbye.
Of course they’re distressed. His parents want to bury their child. His children want to say goodbye to their father. And they don’t understand how something so terrible could happen and no one be held accountable for three years. Three. Long. Years.
Hopefully, the investigative efforts of the Journal-Constitution will bring about a resolution. Hopefully, someone will begin searching and Mr. Merriweather’s remains will be found . . . and answers will be provided . . . and he will be returned to his family. But if not, his parents and his children will be forced to spend their lives waiting. And wondering.
About the author: Lisa Shackelford Thomas is a fourth generation member of a family that’s been in funeral service since 1926. She has been employed at Shackelford Funeral Directors in Savannah, Tennessee for over 40 years and currently serves as the manager there. Any opinions expressed here are hers and hers alone, and may or may not reflect the opinions of other Shackelford family members or staff.