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January 14th, 2014
10:49 PM ET

Husband received wrong body of deceased wife: "Makes the whole problem...even worse...it was just a horrific part of my life"

On Tuesday evening, "Piers Morgan Live" welcomed a family currently dealing with an ordeal so distressing, that the host took to his personal twitter feed to describe the scenario in the plainest of terms:

Funerals and wakes of loved ones are often emotional experiences, but opening the casket to find the wrong body is almost unimaginable. Nonetheless, that's precisely what happened to relatives of Margaret Porkka, a beloved woman of 82 years who passed away suddenly while on vacation in St. Maarten.

"We called right away down to the funeral home down in St. Maarten and said to the funeral director and that it was a mix up, there's a terrible mix up. And the funeral director said, 'oh, absolutely not, absolutely not," explained Judy Tymon, Porkka's daughter. "They said there was only one body at his funeral home in that time period. And he said it was the body of my mother."

Porkka's family was barred from seeing the body while in St. Maarteen, instead they were forced to wire seven thousand dollars to the funeral home in order for the remains to be shipped back to the United States.

Losing his wife was hard enough. A charade of swapped bodies was even harder for Peter Porkka.

"Makes the whole problem, made it even worse. It's so hard to explain it. It was just a horrific part of my life," revealed the grieving husband, as he joined Morgan for a live, face to face interview. "Having something like this happen to someone, a loved one, someone who has been loved by everybody in the neighborhood, in the community."

Further complicating the matter is the notion that the actual body of Margaret Porkka was sent to Canada, where they believe it has subsequently been cremated.

"Supposedly they found some kind of bodily fluid in the casket. And for some reason the funeral home saved that. And we had sent up my mother's toothbrush and her hair brush up to Canada so they could run DNA testing," explained Lisa Kondvar, another daughter. "They've had this stuff since before Christmas. And we just found out a few days ago that they haven't even started the DNA testing."

Watch the clip for more of Morgan's interview with Margaret Porkka's family, and for the next edition of "Piers Morgan Live," watch CNN every night at 9.
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  1. Jim Haliburton

    As a member of a family which went through an equally horrifying funeral issue in 2013 upon the death of my mother, I would appreciate a way to communicate with the family. I have spent the past year researching in depth the funeral industry and have some suggestions as to how the family can protect themselves. It was sad to see how vulnerable they are at this most challenging of times. Please give them my contact information
    Thanking you in advance, Jim Haliburton (604) 926-3352

    January 15, 2014 at 1:44 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lisa Kondvar

      Jim, I am sorry to have never seen your email to our TV interview with Piers. I would appreciate any afvice you can offer. We are going on 2 2/1 years now and I really could use some advice. Thank you.

      Lisa

      June 17, 2016 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. norbert forte

    I work in the funeral business for 15 years.,It is very sad to hear that a mistake like that happen. there is the posibility that somebody saw your mother in the casket before the cremation as they have to transfer the body in a paperbox.'I would suggest you send a pictureof your mother to the funeral home in OTTAWA to see if somebody remember seeing her.My condoleances to you and your family.

    January 15, 2014 at 4:26 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. RB Harris

    With regards to DNA testing; I hope the family realizes that it is not like it is on television. DNA testing can take some time to complete. For one thing, labs will put priority towards testing relating to criminal cases before dealing with civil issues.

    January 16, 2014 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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