ROOSEVELT Utah (ABC 4 News) – A body at a mortuary was snatched in broad daylight.
And now a family is pleading for its return.
Teddy Serawop died November 5 in Salt Lake City and his body was returned to Roosevelt for burial.
“He wanted to be cremated,” says his adopted father Roy Ross.
Ross and his wife raised Serawop who is Native American and a member of the Ute Indian tribe.
But Tuesday, members of the Ute tribe walked into Hullinger Mortuary in Roosevelt with a tribal court order to take Serawop.
“We were holding him because there was disputes with jurisdiction and who had authority to dispose," says funeral director Roger Hullinger.
But while Hullinger was on the phone with tribal attorneys, the tribal members in his office walked out of the room. Moments later a colleague came in to his office.
“My other funeral director slid the door open and said they've got him,” Hullinger says. “He's gone and I stood up looked out the window and the casket was in the truck."
He saw the casket in the pickup's leaving the mortuary's parking lot.
Hullinger suspects the men left Roosevelt and headed to the Ute reservation about twenty miles south east of Roosevelt.
He says they wanted to bury Serawop at the Randlett town cemetery where other members of his Native American family were buried.
His adopted family is shocked over what’s happened.
“I'm dazed and confused and heartbroken as my wife is,” says Ross. “It is the most frustrating thing I've faced in my life.”
Roosevelt police along with tribal police are investigating the case but it could take days, if not weeks to sort out where the body rightfully belongs.
Meanwhile, Serawop’s funeral was cancelled.