GARLAND — Even in pictures from years ago, Melissa Smith's father Robert is wearing his ring. It's a gold band with four diamonds that was very special to him.
And to her, too — especially after his death on September 14.
“Monday morning, my brother and I went to the funeral home to make arrangements and we mentioned he was wearing a ring that we wanted to get back,” Melissa said.
They were speaking with a woman at Williams Funeral Directors in Garland. Smith said she agreed to take care of it.
But days later, when she went to get her father's things, there was an unexpected surprise.
“I asked about the ring and she said, 'Oh, let me look through the paperwork,' and she said all they show is another article of clothing,” Smith said.
So where was it? She started back at the day her father died, wearing the ring.
“Sunday, they did the autopsy and he was photographed with the ring on,” she said.
But that is the last time anyone saw it, and about the time Smith learned her warning to the funeral home was futile.
The Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office told her they didn’t have it. There were conflicting stories about whether or not it would have survived her father’s cremation.
She accepted she’d probably never get it back.
“I just can't believe that a loved one could pass away with a piece of jewelry on that they loved, that they cherished. And all I'm getting is pointing fingers and a big old, 'Gosh, I'm sorry about that,’” Smith said.
News 8 spoke with Cecil Williams, president of Williams Funeral Directors. He said his team relied on a document from the Medical Examiner's office. It's supposed to list any items that were with Robert Smith at the time of his death.
The ring is not listed, but Williams admits they didn't ask for it, as Melissa Smith had requested.
“They did mention a ring, and we made an assumption that we probably should not have made — that since we did not receive it on the inventory sheet, it wasn't there,” he said.
Williams calls it mistake... and a lesson learned.
For Smith, it's more heartache on top of losing her dad.
“This is just one more really unfortunate thing,” she said.
On Wednesday afternoon, Cecil Williams told us he will be refunding the Smith family for all the money spent with them on their father’s services. Melissa Smith said she appreciates the gesture.