Indie rocker gets dead stranger's ashes sent to his home in funeral home mishap

A funeral home has been accused of sending a father’s ashes to the wrong person – nearly six years late and labelled with the wrong name – and only taking them back after a public backlash.

Hamilton Leithauser, 44, opened a package which arrived at his flat in New York on Tuesday to find a cardboard box with the remains inside.

A label stated the remains belonged to a Walter John and had been cremated at John’s Funeral Home in October 2017, while the parcel was simply addressed to ‘current resident’.

Mr Leithauser, a singer known for fronting indie rock band The Walkmen, says he has lived at the address for six years and had never heard of the man.

He claims he rang the funeral home only for the funeral director to refuse to collect the ashes and hang up on him after telling him ‘it’s your problem now’.

The musician took to social media to pressure the company into sorting out the bizarre mishap.

He told his followers: ‘I got in touch with the funeral home, and the director is a f***ing a******, doesn’t give a s*** about this poor guy, and refuses to take them back.

‘Now I have this stranger’s ashes in my kitchen. What should I do with them?’

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Mr Leithauser compared the situation to a skit from deadpan comedy series Curb Your Enthusiasm, adding: ‘In case anybody wants to send hate mail, or wants to know where NOT to die, or send your loved ones, get in touch with [John’s Funeral Home].’

He then set about trying to track down the deceased man’s loved ones, having heard the funeral director say he was trying to ship the ashes to a man named Ronnie who lived at the same address around 2017.

But after his search began to gain publicity, the funeral home reportedly ‘changed its tune’ and agreed to pick the ashes.

It has since emerged that the ashes belonged to Dwight Walter, a trucker who reportedly died in 2017 at the age of 56.

Mr Walter’s son, Lamont Hall, said Ronnie was his brother and that he believed he had taken care of the ashes following their father’s funeral.

Despite the misunderstanding, Mr Hall said the funeral home ‘should’ve reached out’ after the ashes went unclaimed.

He told The Post: ‘Shame ont hem. To see his ashes misplaced like that is heartbreaking. That’s really shocking the way this was handled. 

‘We would have still been in the dark, thinking our father was safe, while he was being shipped around like a package.’

Asked why it took so long to send the ashes, funeral director John Neman told the newspaper ‘Nobody came to pick them up. That was the address I was given.”

It remains unclear how the ashes came to be mislabelled.

Mr Hall thanked Mr Leithauser, who added: ‘It’s just sort of shocking. I’m like, “What am I supposed to do with these?”

‘This was a person. You have to show a little respect.’ 

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