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Oklahoma Family Buries Wrong Man

An Oklahoma couple got a real shock upon returning home from a family funeral. They received a call from their son, Kevin Wyckoff, whom they believed they had just buried.

"Hey Dad," Kevin, 23, said in his call from the Lexington Assessment and Reception Center on December 22, 2003. "Huh. Well, damn boy. We just had your funeral today," his father replied, according to a transcript of the call released by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (DOC).

The man who was buried was believed to be Steven L. Howe, 34, also a prisoner at the Center. Officials planned to exhume the body for identification. Both men had entered the prison on December 5, 2003, and were similar in appearance, according to prison officials.

Kevin is serving a five-year sentence for charges that include kidnapping and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Howe was serving five years for driving while intoxicated and evading police.

Prison officials were trying to determine how the mix-up occurred, saying that the two may have switched cells without permission. But Kevin said that prison personnel had incorrectly put Howe's name on a cell where he had been moved, and left his name on the cell where Howe killed himself.

However it happened, prison officials are the ones who evidently misidentified the body, according to DOC spokesman Jerry Massie. Yet, like a recalcitrant child, the DOC refuses to accept responsibility for its actions. Prison officials apparently offered no apology to either family, and even balked at reimbursing the Wyckoff's for the unwarranted funeral expenses, saying they may have to file a claim. "We can't just write them a check," said Massie.

Source: Associated Press

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