Family to Sue Medical Examiner Over Mishandling of Murdered Man's Remains

Cedric McFadden's family discovered his skull and spine were still held at the Lake County Medical Examiner's Office nearly 20 years after his burial. The family plans to file a lawsuit against the office, alleging mishandling of McFadden's remains and seeking accountability.

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Bijay Laxmi
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Family to Sue Medical Examiner Over Mishandling of Murdered Man's Remains

Family to Sue Medical Examiner Over Mishandling of Murdered Man's Remains

In a shocking discovery, the family of Cedric Wayne McFadden, who was murdered in 2005, has found out that his skull and spine were still being held at the Lake County Medical Examiner's Office in Tavares, Florida, nearly 20 years after his burial. The family plans to file a lawsuit against the office, alleging mishandling of McFadden's remains.

Why this matters: This incident raises concerns about the accountability and competence of medical examiners' offices, which are responsible for handling sensitive and critical tasks. It also highlights the need for stricter protocols and oversight to prevent such egregious errors from occurring in the future.

Cedric McFadden was shot and killed during a robbery in 2005, and his body was left in a pond behind the perpetrator's home near Belleview. Due to the body's heavy decomposition, the family did not hold a viewing and instead relied on the Medical Examiner's Office to release the body to Summer's Funeral Home in Ocala, Florida on June 15, 2005.

However, on February 11, 2024, the Medical Examiner's Office contacted McFadden's sister, Jacqueline Forshee, to inform her about the discovery of his skull and spine. "She asked me if I knew Cedric McFadden and if I knew how she could get in touch with Ruth Forbes," Forshee recounted. "And I said, 'Yes, I know him; That's my brother. And I'm at church with my mom right now."

The family is accusing the Medical Examiner's Office of mishandling McFadden's remains and failing to provide a reason for the error. "It took the bandage off of a wound, obviously. It caused a lot of stress... We had to go through a burial twice, which I feel was unnecessary," said Forshee. She also questioned the office, asking, "My first question to her was, 'How do I know I buried my brother the first time?' If that was truly him that we buried?"

The family did not want to unearth McFadden's casket, so they had the newly discovered remains sealed in a vault near the original casket. The Medical Examiner's Office provided the family with options, but they felt rushed to make a decision.

Ruthel Forbes, McFadden's mother, plans to bring legal action against the Lake County Medical Examiner's Office by November 3, 2024. The lawsuit alleges that the office failed to use ordinary care to maintain McFadden's remains intact, provide all body parts to the funeral home, follow instructions from Forbes as the legally authorized person, maintain proper records, and implement policies and procedures to ensure the remains were properly released under state law.

The family's attorney, Ortavia Simon, described the case as "probably by far the most bizarre that I've ever encountered in mortuary litigation." Simon emphasized the travesty of the situation, stating, "Not only did it take one year, it took almost 20 years for them to finally reach out and be accountable to this family that they have not been given all of the remains of their loved one. It is an absolute travesty."

The Lake County Medical Examiner's Office has not commented on the story despite multiple requests. The family's lawsuit, set to be filed by November, seeks to hold the office accountable for the mishandling of Cedric McFadden's remains and the emotional distress caused to his loved ones nearly two decades after his murder and burial.

Key Takeaways

  • Cedric McFadden's skull and spine were found at the Lake County Medical Examiner's Office 20 years after his burial.
  • The family was not informed and only discovered the remains in 2024, causing emotional distress.
  • The family alleges the office mishandled the remains and failed to follow proper protocols.
  • A lawsuit will be filed against the office, seeking accountability and compensation for the family's suffering.
  • The incident raises concerns about the competence and accountability of medical examiners' offices.