"I want to know when I can have her back to start this healing," said Jennifer Reedy. The wait for her daughter Serenity Reedy's body has been excruciating for the Richland mother and filled with questions much like her daughter's death.
"My daughter died June 7th and we still have yet to have her funeral," she exclusively told KEPR. "The coroner is not allowing us to have her body back."
Police say Serenity Reedy was raped and killed at the hands of a convicted sex offender, who at the time was Jennifer's boyfriend. She says not having her daughter now is salt in a wound that she doubts will ever heal.
"I am supposed to have a grieving process and I can't really start that or start the healing until I can have her funeral," she said. It's the harsh reality of a death investigation, but the coroner told KEPR it's also the difference between a conviction and a walk.
"We understand the family wants to have closure and the family wants to have the child so they can have a funeral or a memorial. But we live in a world of a lot of litigation and we have to speak for the child," said John Hansens, the Benton County Coroner. "That's our job." It's a difficult job and a lengthy one he said.
"Our office conducts an autopsy and that info is available to prosecutors, police and the defense. A lot of times the defense wants a second autopsy from the pathologist of their choice," he added, which can add time.
That's the case here, as it was with Ryder Morrison, a Richland baby who died two years ago in June. The defense for Kelly Jacobson, the nanny accused of killing Ryder, came back to the coroner multiple times to confirm results.
"The last thing we want to do is make a mistake and have to exhume a body," said Hansens, "families that have had closure, we don't want to traumatize them again." It takes two months for toxicology results to be process; the coroner says he expects Serenity's results any day now.
"I want them to do all they can...I want to start healing," said Reedy.
The Benton County Coroner said these cases are the hardest. He leaves a light on in the office at all times to act as a night light until Serenity Reedy is given back to her mother.
Jose Aguilar is facing second-degree murder charges for serenity's death.