“It’s hard to know he’s gone, let alone gone, gone where I don’t even know where his body is,” said Fonda Ross, mother of Teddy Serawop.
Fonda Ross is in agony. She tells ABC 4 someone stole the body of her 32 year old son Teddy Serawop.
“How do you feel?” Reporter Brian Carlson asked Ross.
“Angry, hurt, wondering where he is,” she said.
Serawop died last week with an enlarged heart. His mother had his body transported to the Hullinger Mortuary in Roosevelt, and began making funeral plans with Serawop’s father and her son’s former live-in girlfriend.
“They started throwing a fit that they didn’t want him cremated,” said Ross.
“Did you want him cremated?” Carlson asked.
“He wanted to be cremated, that’s what he wanted,” she said.
The problem is Serawop was a member of the Ute tribe, their court ruled the girlfriend had jurisdiction over his body and wanted him buried in a tribal cemetery in Randlett, but the funeral director refused to give up the body.
“We were holding him here until we decided if the tribal courts had jurisdiction or does the state courts have jurisdiction,” said Roger Hullinger, Funeral Director.
So Roger Hullinger told ABC 4 Serawop’s father’s family took the law into their own hands. He said Tuesday night two men representing the tribe came into Hullinger’s office, closed the door behind them, and while they were discussing a court order, the family wheeled Serawop’s body out the front door.
“Our other funeral director walked in and said he’s gone, they’ve taken him,” said Hullinger.
His mother is in shock.
“I just couldn’t believe somebody could do that and get away with it,” said Ross.
When Carlson called the Ute tribe for an explanation, they sent him a press release stating “the family members retrieved the body from the home for proper burial.”
ABC 4 also learned the family of Serawop took his body to the cemetery in Randlett. The Ute tribe told Carlson they buried his body there Wednesday morning.