Family claims funeral home held body hostage

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Two siblings turned to WREG after they said a Fox Meadows funeral home refused to hand over their mother's body.

It turns out, it's not the first time the Signature Funeral Home on Knight Arnold has come under scrutiny.

Terran Ellis and Shaquita Young said they agreed to have the funeral home pick up their mother's body and embalm her after she passed away two weeks ago.  WREG discovered those services would typically cost no more than $1,000.

The siblings said they waited for Signature Funeral Home to provide a quote for burying their mother, but when the quote finally came back, they opted to go with another funeral home.

That's when they said Signature Funeral Home dropped a bombshell.

"We just come to talk to someone the very next day after our mom passed and for them to come back with we owe them $2,100 for that conversation, is crazy," said Ellis.

Signature allegedly wanted $2,175 before they would release the body, well over the $1,075 the siblings said they were told they would be charged for the pickup and embalming.

"You just trumped up them charges so fast it’s ridiculous," said Young.

The siblings said part of the $2,175 included a consulting fee they said they were never told about beforehand.

Each time they tried to pay, they said the price kept going up.

"That's unethical to hold a body for ransom, a dead body," said Young.

WREG tried questioning a manager at the funeral home about the situation, but he drove away without answering any of our questions.

They did eventually release the body, but Young said she plans to take the funeral home to court.

When we investigated Signature Funeral Home's past, we discovered they paid two fines in 2016, one for engaging in "deceptive acts or practices" and another for failing to "honor financial obligations to suppliers." Both fines added up to only $1,250.

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