Amid objection, Schiavo's body cremated
Michael Schiavo defies the wishes of Terri Schiavo's parents. His lawyer says there are no further plans.
Tampa Bay Times | April 3, 2005
By ALEX LEARY
|Even in death, Terri Schiavo's fate continued to bitterly divide members of her family.
On Saturday, Schiavo's body was cremated, and her husband, defying the wishes of her parents, said he plans to bury the ashes in a family plot in her home state of Pennsylvania.
The cremation happened at 9 a.m. at a National Cremation Society facility, according to Michael Schiavo's attorney, George Felos. He would not specify the location of the crematorium.
"No further plans have as yet been determined," Felos said, concluding a terse news release.
But Michael Schiavo's brother, Scott Schiavo, said the burial would be at an undisclosed location near Philadelphia and Terri Schiavo's parents are not invited for fear of creating a media spectacle.
"If Mike knew they would come in peace, he would have no problem with it," Scott Schiavo said in an interview with the Associated Press.
A court order gives Michael Schiavo control of his wife's body, though he must inform her parents of any memorial services and the location of the cemetery.
The cremation came one day after an autopsy was completed by the Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner's Office.
Bob and Mary Schindler protested cremation and insisted their daughter's remains be buried in Pinellas County. They explained their objection in a February petition in Pinellas County Probate Court.
"Destruction of the body flies in the face of the Christian belief that the body we die in will be resurrected in the future," the document stated.
Burial out of state is "unkind and inappropriate," the Schindlers said, because the majority of people who would visit the grave live in Pinellas County.
The Schindlers did not offer comment Saturday, but others who sided with them during the extraordinary struggle over Terri Schiavo's life were sharply critical of the cremation.
"It's repugnant," said Randall Terry, the Christian activist who worked on behalf of the Schindlers in the tense, unpredictable days leading up to her death Thursday at Hospice House Woodside in Pinellas Park. She had been nourished with a feeding tube for 15 years after suffering a devastating brain injury.
"The very fact that the family is begging for her body, that they want a proper Catholic funeral, that they want her buried nearby, shows what a cruel, vindictive man (Michael Schiavo) has been all along," Terry said.
"It would have been a respectful end to this mess," Terri Schiavo's longtime friend Diane Meyer said in a telephone interview from Doylestown, Pa. "Her body may be gone but her soul lives on. We need to focus on that now."
Though they will not have the body to grieve over, the Schindlers plan a funeral Mass for 7 p.m. Tuesday at Most Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church in Gulfport.
Despite yet another setback, the Schindlers do not intend to press the issue in court, said their attorney, David Gibbs III.
The Schindlers had also sought to have independent medical experts observe her autopsy at the Pinellas County Medical Examiner's Office, but the office refused the request, Gibbs said.
Michael Schiavo has not spoken publicly since his wife's death, but Felos said Saturday: "He's holding up. It's very difficult for him."
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.