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Family burial of loved one delayed three weeks

6:55 PM, Aug 30, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Cynthia Roberts was married 43 years. On August 10, her husband died unexpectedly, turning her world upside down.

"He was different, he was very quiet, and he loved to read," she said.

Arthur Roberts was a retired educator, a civil war buff, an avid Civil War re-enactor. Despite his health problems, she said he was very active.

"He had a pacemaker," she said, "He had bypass surgery, all of that appeared to be working fine. He had been a diabetic all of his life, but doing fine."

Roberts said it wasn't unusual for her husband to take a walk in the  park near Whitehouse Elementary. When he was overdue, she asked a neighbor to check on him. When the neighbor found him, he was sitting in the park deceased.

"That was three weeks ago," said Roberts.

For three weeks, his body has been at Fraser funeral home in cold storage. The funeral home owner said they can't do the cremation without a signed death certificate.

"I'm upset," said Roberts, "I can't move forward and my children are in limbo as I am."

Roberts said the medical examiner was not involved in the case and won't sign the form. Neither will her husband's doctors and she's puzzled as to why. 

"I get up every day hoping to hear from the state department," she said. 

She is talking about the Florida Department of Vital Statistics.

"We can't solve any problems until we have a death certificate," said Roberts. "It doesn't have to blame anybody and it doesn't have to blame anything, but right now, our children and I need this."

Charles Griggs, spokesperson for the Duval County Health Department, said the death certificate will be signed this week so the Roberts family can moved forward.

According to state law, 72 hours after the funeral home receives a death certificate, the doctor must complete the medical certification. If the doctor refuses, it goes to the county and then to the state.

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