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Francis Kerrigan and Carole Meikle, center, and their lawyers Ryann E. Hall, left, and V. James DeSimone, contend the Orange County coroner switched one dead homeless man’s body for another to cover up a botched death notification last May. “It’s a horror show on top of a horror show,” Kerrigan said. (Credit: Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)
The Orange County Sheriff-Coroner has yet to explain how authorities identified a homeless man found dead behind a phone store last May as 57-year-old Frankie M. Kerrigan — who turned up alive a week after he supposedly was buried.
The coroner later admitted a blunder and said that the body was actually that of John Dickens, 54, another homeless man. Dickens’ body was exhumed, and his cremated ashes were sent to his family in Kansas.
Now the Kerrigan family contends that a third, unidentified man was involved in the body mix-up — and that the misidentification was not a mistake.
In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, the family alleged that coroner’s officials substituted Dickens’ body for that of an unknown man to cover up their botched identification.
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Frank Kerrigan, left, and his father, also named Frank Kerrigan. The coroner told the elder Kerrigan that his son’s fingerprints matched the body, and the office told Meikle they found her brother’s identification card — obvious untruths, the family members said in their lawsuit. (Credit: From Frank Kerrigan)