A case of mistaken identity is causing a Charlotte funeral home to lose customers.
A Spartanburg, South Carolina, funeral home with the same name is accused of a bizarre crime — leaving a body to rot for three years.
“Several people called us and wanted to know if we were affiliated with them,” Steffeny Tonkins-Harris says. “No. We don’t even know them.”
Tonkins-Harris has had her own funeral business for two years in Charlotte.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer
“I came from a family of funeral people,” she said.
And that’s where she got the business name idea: First Family Funeral and Cremation.
It’s taken hard work to gain that name some recognition, but lately, it’s been getting the wrong attention.
“People called, nit-picking, you know how people do. Nit-picking, making fun,” she said.
Operators of the other First Family Funeral Home in Spartanburg faces charges connected to the claim that they left a woman’s body rotting in an unrefrigerated room for three years.
But a state away, Tonkins-Harris’ Charlotte group is dealing with confusion, losing business even, because people are convinced the two are connected, she said.
“Some people, only thing they see is the ‘First Family’ and they’ll take it and run with it. But that’s not us,” she said.
Like many, Tonkins-Harris can’t imagine how the incident in Spartanburg could have even happened. And she insists it would never happen within her First Family walls.
“We’re family and we treat everyone like they’re family,” she said.