Posted: Dec 26, 2012 9:51 PM
Updated: Dec 26, 2012 11:43 PM
MISSION - Phyllis Jones died eight days ago, but her body has yet to be released from a Mission funeral home.
Her widower said he didn't get straight answers on how to get the body released, so he called 5 On Your Side.
Legal technicalities, vacationing judges and medical complexities combined to keep her family from moving forward with a memorial ceremony.
That may change soon, thanks to an Hidalgo County justice of the peace who agreed to handle the case.
"I can't sleep. I see her laying there in that funeral home and it's not right," Les Jones told CHANNEL 5 NEWS on Monday.
His wife of 63 years died on Dec. 18. She was taken to Rick Brown Funeral Home in Mission.
Funeral home employees said they could not release the body because her death certificate was not signed.
Normally, a doctor signs the certificate. But in Phyllis Jones' case, she fell a few days before her death. A receptionist with the company where her attending physician works said a justice of the peace would have to sign the certificate.
The justice of the peace will determine if the fall contributed to her death.
Problems continued when both justices of the peace for the precinct where she died went on vacation. They will not return until the first of the year.
Les Jones' daughter flew in from South Carolina to help him with the situation.
"It was so frustrating to know that we weren't getting anything resolved and we couldn't move on. I know this was tearing dad up inside. It was tearing both of us up inside," Leslie Jones Hart said.
Any of Hidalgo County's nine justices of the peace could sign the death certificate.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS on Monday contacted Hidalgo County Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Rosa Trevino.
Trevino said she would determine if the fall contributed to Phyllis Jones' death or exacerbated an existing condition.
"This is where we come in, getting the information, because once we sign that legal document, that legal document goes to Austin," Trevino said.
Trevino began working on the problem Wednesday. She obtained Phyllis Jones' medical records. She plans to sign the death certificate on Thursday.
"I'll be able to move on because I know that she's being taken care of. My kids will know that she's being taken care of. Once we get the cremation, then we can take her to the cemetery," Les Jones said.
Les Jones is a veteran, so his wife's ashes will be interred at the Rio Grande Valley State Veterans Cemetery in Mission.
After 82 years, the sun set on Phyllis Jones' long, full life. Now her family sees light at the end of a bureaucratic tunnel.