Frank J. Kerrigan was devastated when he learned his son, Frank J Kerrigan Jr. was found dead behind a Verizon Store in Fountain Valley, Orange County on May 6th.
Frank Sr. asked if he should come identify the body but the coroner said it wasn’t necessary as he had been identified via finger print. Frank Jr. was 57, homeless, and had mental health issues.
“When somebody tells me my son is dead, when they have fingerprints, I believe them,” Frank Sr. said. “If he wasn’t identified by fingerprints I would’ve been there in a heartbeat.”
Frank Jr’s sister, 56-year-old Carole Meikle, visited the scene where coroner officials said her brother had died. “It was a very difficult situation for me to stand at a pretty disturbing scene. There was blood and dirty blankets,” she told reporters.
The family accepted the loss and a service was held at Chapman Funeral Home. The family had the casket opened so Frank Sr. could take a brief look at this son and say goodbye.
But there were details about Frank Jr.’s death that just didn’t add up when Kerrigan picked up his son’s personal belongings in a blue bag, as opposed to the black brief case he usually carried. He found a wallet with no ID, and two of Frank Jr.’s most prized objects, his watch and pen were missing.
Shortly after the funeral, Frank Sr. received a phone call from his friend Bill Shinker. “Your son is alive,” said Bill. The next voice hear by Kerrigan was his son, who said, “Hi Dad’.” Frank Jr. was standing on Shinker’s patio, completely fine.
An attorney hired by Kerrigan later discovered that law enforcement officials never got a positive ID with fingerprints, and confirmed his son’s identity with an old license they had on file.
Kerrigan has filed a lawsuit on the grounds that authorities didn’t make an adequate effort to identify Frank Jr. because he was homeless, thus violating his civil rights.
The name of the man who was found behind the Verizon store, and the one that actually was buried hasn’t been released.
Kerrigan blames his own grief for why he didn’t realize the dead body in the casket was not his son.
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