LONGVIEW, Wash. -- A local mother believes her daughter's body was fondled at a Longview funeral home: "I heard her words in my head," Theresa Brunelle told KOIN. "I heard her say, 'Mom, I felt violated.'"
Her daughter, Lakisha Brunelle, died this past summer. The family filed a lawsuit against that funeral home Thursday.
"She was victimized even after death," Brunelle said. "The guy violated my baby when she died and there was nothing she could do to protect herself."
It has been less than a year since Theresa Brunelle said her final goodbyes to her daughter. She still cries every day.
Lakisha confided in her mother shortly before dying that the 60 surgeries she has endured had taught her, all too well, what it was like to be violated. Now, Theresa has been told a worker at the Columbia Funeral Service in Longview may have fondled her daughter's body before she was cremated.
The long-time owner of the Columbia Funeral Service did not want to be on camera as part of KOIN's story. However, he did tell The Daily News in Longview earlier this week that the man at the center of these accusations told him he was only checking her body for a pacemaker and not sexually abusing it.
Longview police investigated this case back in February. The Cowlitz County prosecutor's office declined to file charges, concluding it would be difficult to prove anything was done for the purpose of sexual gratification.
The family, nonetheless, is suing Dorothy and the funeral home in civil court for an undisclosed amount of money.
They know it won't bring Lakisha back. However, the family said it might show the funeral operator just how mad they are over what they said was the fondling of not just a body but of a family member.