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$20K funeral: Frank J Kerrigan gets phone call from son 11 days after burying wrong man

Frank J. Kerrigan
Frank J Kerrigan an Orange County father buried his son and spend $20K on his funeral
Frank J. Kerrigan
Pictured, Frank J Kerrigan (left) an Orange County, California father who was led to believe he had buried his dead son, Frank J Kerrigan (far right) who actually turned out to be alive.

How Frank J Kerrigan an Orange County father buried his son and spend $20K on his funeral only to be told that the son was actually alive eleven days later. 

Frank J Kerrigan an 82 year old Orange County, California man has expressed outrage after being led to believe his 57 year old son, had died, leading to the father grieving and spending over $20, 000 in funeral costs.

That is until Frank M. Kerrigan called his father eleven days later to say that he was very much well and alive, thank you very much.

In what appears to be a case of mistaken identity, Frank Kerrigan has been put through the mental grinder after having been told that of his son’s recent purported death. 

At the time of what he believed to be his son’s burial, Kerrigan and family gathered May 12 at the Cemetery of the Holy Sepulchere to put the son to rest.

A report via The Orange County Register told of family and friends moments earlier having gathered for a memorial service at the Holy Family Catholic Cathedral.

And thus began the heartfelt journey of commiserating the loss of a  family member.

Until the phone rang on May 23.

On the other line was Bill Shinker, a longtime family friend who’d served as a pallbearer at Kerrigan’s son’s funeral.

‘Your son is alive,’ told Shinker.

‘Bill put my son on the phone,’ Kerrigan said.

‘He said “Hi Dad.”’

It was a miraculous turn of events for the grief-stricken family, though now the question was how could such a mishap occur and who had the family actually come to bury? 

It all began on May 6, when Kerrigan was notified by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department that he needed to get in touch with the Orange County Coroner.

Kerrigan called the coroner and was told that his 57-year-old son, who is homeless and suffers from mental illness, was allegedly found dead behind a Verizon store in Fountain Valley.

When the father asked if he should identify the body, the coroner’s office told him that it wasn’t necessary since his son’s identity had already been confirmed by fingerprints.

Told the father,When somebody tells me my son is dead, when they have fingerprints, I believe them,’

‘If he wasn’t identified by fingerprints I would been there in heartbeat.’

Frank J Kerrigan
Pictured, Frank J Kerrigan daughter, Carole Meikle who’d also received a phonecall that her brother, Frank M Kerrigan was dead.

Kerrigan’s daughter, Carole Meikle, 56, was also informed that her brother had died.

The woman went to the Verizon store to see for herself.

When she got there, she noticed a spot near the bushes where the body was reportedly found.

‘It was a messy scene – bloodied blankets and dirt everywhere,’ the sister recalled.

Nevertheless, Meikle was struck by the fact that what she was looking at contrasted with what the coroner’s office had told her – that her brother had died peacefully.

But it gets bleaker.

During the funeral, Kerrigan opened the casket to take one last look at his son. Yet because the father was so distraught he failed to notice the man in the casket wasn’t his son.

Frank’s brother, John Kerrigan, gave the eulogy, and about 50 people came from as far as Las Vegas and Washington State. 

Kerrigan also said it was odd that when the family received the dead man’s belongings, it didn’t contain items they were expecting, like a wallet with his identification or a prized watch.

After the younger Frank called his father to assure him he was alive, the family hired lawyers, Douglas and Brian Easton, of Easton & Easton, LLP, to investigate.

It turns out that the coroner’s office never conducted a fingerprint identification.

The authorities apparently determined it was Frank M. Kerrigan because the dead man bore an outer resemblance to him.

When the fingerprints of the dead man were put into the computer, they did not match those of Frank M. Kerrigan.

The family has begun to take steps toward legal action against the coroner’s office.

The lawsuit will claim that the Kerrigans’ civil rights were violated because the coroner’s office failed to made adequate efforts to determine if the body was indeed that of Frank M. Kerrigan.

The family’s lawyers say that they know the identity of the man buried in Frank M. Kerrigan’s final resting place, according to KABC-TV.

The identity of the unnamed victim has yet to be released because it is not known if the person’s family has been notified.

While Kerrigan has welcomed the news that his son is still alive, it also comes with the knowledge that his son continues to remain living on the street. The son according to the family declined to be placed in the shelter.

The son’smental state is such that he does not understand the magnitude of what his family has just experienced, according to his sister.

Still, the family is relieved, though it is recovering from the trauma.

‘We lived through our worst fear,’ Meikle said. ‘He was dead on the sidewalk. We buried him. Those feelings don’t go away.’ 

To date, the family has initiated the process of re-applying for the son’s Social Security benefits that were cut off once the federal government was informed that Frank M. Kerrigan was dead. 

A spokesperson for the Orange County Sheriff-Coroner’s Office said they could not comment because of an ongoing investigation.

Welcome to a brave America where being mentally ill and or homeless barely merits the dignity of your existence. Or failed existence. Until death. And even then….

Frank J Kerrigan
Pictured, Orange County, California man, Frank J Kerrigan who’d been led to believe that his son, Frank M Kerrigan was dead.