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Medical examiner's office says woman was buried with another person's remains

Posted at 6:43 PM, Nov 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-07 18:43:00-05

We have an update to a story 7 Action News first told you about on Monday.

The Oakland County Medical Examiner's office will now exhume the remains of Darlene McKenzie.

McKenzie's daughter, Carlita Ransom, spoke to 7 Action News on Monday. She was upset because the medical examiner's office gave her a box of some of her mother's bones more than a month after she buried her in February of 2017.

McKenzie had been murdered and was buried as a Jane Doe for more than 40 years.

More than a month after she was laid to rest, an investigator from the medical examiner's office stunned her when they dropped off a box of bones, blaming the delay on an out of state DNA lab.

Carlita says she was never told that the remains she'd been given earlier were not all of her mother.

Now, the medical examiner's office says after looking into the case this week, it discovered the envelope of remains that was buried with Carlita's mom last year actually belong to someone else, Donald Smith of Hazel Park.

We covered his story back in 2016 after his mummified remains were found in his home.

DNA was needed to identify him. The medical examiner's office says a bone used to ID Smith was "erroneously placed with McKenzie's remains."

"I'm reading everything I can, doing everything we can to investigate where the error occurred. We never want this to happen to anybody else. We want to make sure we hold ourselves to a high standard. We sincerely apologize," says Casimir Miarka, administrator for the Oakland County Medical Examiner's office.

Donald Smith's brother says he got a call from the medical examiner's office on Wednesday morning.

"He said they put two tags on all that stuff, but somehow it got mixed up. Somebody's not doing their job properly. That's all I can say," says Paul Smith, Donald Smith's brother.

Miarka says they will exhume McKenzie's body, pay for a new vault, place the bones back inside, remove Smith's bone and lay McKenzie to rest as she should be.

He says the county will cover the expenses.

Ransom tells 7 Action News she has hired an attorney.