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Family Suing NYC After Teen’s Brain Found In ME’s Office

The Shipleys Of Staten Island Forced To Bury Son Twice
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Jesse Shipley

Photo: Family Handout/Staten Island Advance

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NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Their son died in a horrific car accident, but that was just the beginning of dealing with his heart-wrenching death for his parents.

Next, after he was buried, they found out his brain was on display in the medical examiner’s office.

CBS 2’s John Slattery spoke with the angry parents.

Andre Shipley and his wife, Korisha, said it’s still hard to believe that for two months after their son was buried, his brain was not with the rest of the remains.

“This was tremendously, tremendously out of control. It was bad, nerve-wracking, shocking,” Andre said.

It was in January of 2005 when their son, Jesse, a 17-year-old student at Port Richmond High School, a passenger in a car, was killed in an accident. After an autopsy, the body was released to the family for burial.

But imagine the family’s shock two months later when they learned that a high school field trip to the morgue, involving some of their son’s own friends, noticed Jesse’s brain in a jar.

“Friends who were there saw the brain in a jar, displayed with his name labeled on it,” Andre said.

The ME’s office told the parents the brain was held for tests with other brains, but the parents said they were never informed. So, the parents won a court order for the return of the organ, and their son was buried a second time.

“We had no idea. We had to go dig it up to bury the rest of his remains with his body,” Andre said.

“The body has to be exhumed. Body parts were actually sewn into the cavity of Jesse’s corpse, and a second burial had to take place,” attorney Anthony Galante said.

The boy’s mother said she wants to know why she was never informed that the brain was held back.

“I am destroyed. I am destroyed and I will live with this for the rest of my life,” Korisha said.

The state’s appellate division has allowed a lawsuit to proceed. In a statement, city lawyer Ronald Sternberg said: “We are evaluating our legal options in light of the decision. We note that the court correctly recognized that it was within the medical examiner’s discretion to perform the autopsy.”

The parents are now suing the city, not only to recover damages, but to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

The parents said if they had been informed that an organ was being held for later testing, they might have delayed the funeral, instead of having two.

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