Family sues funeral home, sons body left to 'literally rot' during Winter Storm with no embalming

A Houston area funeral home is being sued by a family after their deceased son's body was treated horrifically following the 2021 Winter Storm.

According to a lawsuit, Julietta Guerra is seeking $1,000,000 in monetary relief from her horrific experience with Integrity Funeral Home in south Houston. In a release from Dolcefino Consulting, it says the funeral home left her son, Edward Silva's, body "to literally rot."

Guerra's son died unexpectedly on Feb. 9, 2021, and she left his body in the care of Integrity Funeral Home. The funeral home director, Hilda Rojas, assured the mother they would embalm him and "they would make him look like he was real." Rojas also told Guerra she could see her son after he was embalmed.

Dolcefino Consulting says the mother claims the funeral home failed to embalm Silva's body for four days leading up to Winter Storm Uri. The home received the body on Feb. 11, 2021 from the Harris County Medical Examiner's Office.

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According to the lawsuit, Rojas told Guerra she could not see the body until Feb. 12 after he was embalmed and fixed up for the funeral on Feb 17. When Guerra called to come to see her son's body, Rojas told her the body was not ready yet, and the same thing happened on Feb. 13.

Winter Storm Uri arrived in Houston on Feb. 14 and when Guerra called the funeral home, she did not get an answer, reports say. Her husband drove with her to the home and the doors were locked with no one inside. As they drove around the building, they reportedly saw the funeral home did not have generators, unlike the other nearby funeral homes that did.

Rojas is said to have called Guerra to tell her the power was off, and the funeral would have to be postponed to a later day. Around Feb. 21, the lawsuit states Rojas told Guerra she could come to see Silva and the funeral could be had on Feb. 23.

Reports say Guerra arrived at the funeral home with a beautician to do Silva's hair and makeup on Feb. 22.

Silva was "severely decomposed" and the smell was so strong the beautician advised Guerra's sister that Guerra shouldn't see her son, the lawsuit says. It states, "Edward's skin was so delicate that when she put on the makeup, the skin was slipping and falling off, and that his hair was falling Dogg when she was trying to cut and style it."

Rojas reportedly did not say anything to the mother or family about the state of the body, reports say.

The lawsuit goes on to say, "The body was badly deteriorated and smelled rotten. Edward had remained cut open and had not been sewn back up. His chest had a gaping hole, an empty cavity that was not stuffed. He did not seem like he had been embalmed. There was a terrible smell. The funeral suit that Julieta has brought for Edward would not fit, because of the extreme post-mortem swelling of the body. They had to tip open the cit and the shirt so that t could be draped over Edward's body."

Rojas reportedly suggested they spray cologne to help mask the smell and tried adding coffee grounds into the coffin. Neither action worked.

Records say Guerra asked Rojas why Silva was bleeding, and his nails were black when he had been embalmed, but Rojas had not responded. A liquid was also oozing out of his ears and after Rojas tried to stick Q-tips in them to stop it, she said, "I don't know what this is."

The lawsuit stated how the family had the casket closed the day of the funeral because the smell was so bad. There were more than 100 friends and family in attendance at the funeral and everyone had to keep covering their noses while some were even retching at the horrible smell.

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"No family should have to endure the desecration of their loved one's body like the Guerra family did", says family attorney Omar Khawaja "We intend to hold Integrity Funeral Home at Forest Lawn cemetery accountable for their egregious conduct."

A few days after the funeral Guerra went to pick up Silva's belongings and Rojas told her she threw them away because she assumed it was what Guerra wanted. It is now suspected they were covered with discharge from a decomposing boy, reports say.

Months after the funeral, Rojas made a call to Guerra and said "please don't sue the funeral home or they will let people go."

Since the incident, Guerra is said to have suffered mental anguish and depression. The mother has reportedly been haunted by the experience with the funeral home.

The lawsuit says Integrity Funeral Home was grossly negligent in its actions and care of Silva's body.