Family shocked after learning what they thought was their loved one’s ashes turned out to be something different

Another family has come forward to share their experience with Marion Graham Mortuaries.

As investigators searched for the funeral director, Elliott Maurice Graham, more and more people started to speak out about their experiences with the north Jacksonville mortuary.

Graham is accused of stealing, giving families the wrong ashes, and abandoning a mortuary with bodies inside. On Friday, the 49-year-old was arrested in Orange County. He now faces charges including grand theft and improper preservation of a body.

Pauline Durden’s family received an unexpected call from state investigators that revealed that their grandmother’s body was found in the mortuary now under investigation.

Durden was laid to rest nearly six months ago, so this was a shock to them. Her granddaughters told News4JAX that investigators told them the ashes they received weren’t their grandmothers.

“It was heartbreaking,” Durden said. “Just the journey of everything, it’s been tough trying to heal. And just when you think you get to a point where it’s like, he’s starting to feel a little bit better. It’s the wound that’s been reopened,” Nairobia Durden said.

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Nairobia said detectives are going to test the ashes they thought were their loved ones.

“They took it with them. They’re going to have it tested to find exactly what it is. I did have jewelry that I opened now knowing that it wasn’t a human body in it, and it doesn’t look like ashes,” she said.

Johnesha Kemp said the ashes resembled “chalk or ground kitty litter” to her.

“It doesn’t look human at all,” Kemp said.

The state arranged to move Pauline’s body to another crematorium to properly cremate her. Nairobia said learning what happened to their grandmother adds another level to their grief.

“It’s been hard, just having like nightmares, just like picturing what state they may have found her body, and it’s really heartbreaking to know that someone that we love so much was treated so bad, even after death,” she said.

The granddaughters also said they noticed Graham’s strange behavior during their interactions.

“He would always give her the runaround, saying he’s coming and never shows up. It was kind of like a cat-and-mouse chase, trying to get everything done after it happened. Even when it came to insurance. They received this or never received that for him,” Kemp said.

Kemp said Graham’s recent arrest helps them finally close this chapter.

“It gave us a little bit of closure, knowing that we now have my grandma. The person who did this horrendous act is now behind bars, and the process is getting moved and we can finally let it go and let her rest in peace — the way that she needed to and move forward to get over everything,” Kemp said.

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