Why did the man claiming to be her husband bury her a day before court proceedings that were to determine who should lay her to rest? Why has he blocked her family from conducting an independent autopsy?
These are the questions that the family of Dorothy Ong’era is seeking answers to following her death in Dallas, Texas, United States, under mysterious circumstances nearly two months ago.
Two Kenyan families are engaged in the vicious court battle over the burial of the mother of six. The legal tussle pits Dorothy’s father, Mr David Ong’era, against her husband, Mr Obadia Kinara.
Matters are even more complicated after Mr Kinara’s lawyer revealed in court that Dorothy had already been buried without the knowledge of her blood relatives, who also live in Dallas.
Presiding Judge Brooke Allen expressed outrage at the action of burying someone whose death was the subject of a judicial process.
“This matter was adjudicated and dismissed for lack of jurisdiction by another court. Police had investigated the cause of death and closed the case. This gave the husband the right to dispose of the body. The deceased has been buried,” said Mr Kinara’s lawyer.
Drowned in bathtub
The judge told the lawyer that, if it was true that the burial had taken place, she should bring the details to court, including where the deceased was buried, when and which funeral home conducted the ceremony.
The case was taken to Judge Allen after an earlier one filed by Dorothy’s family was dismissed by a civil court due to lack of jurisdiction.
On December 17, Mr Kinara, who was living with Ms Ong’era, reported her death to her family. He said in a report made at Kennedale police station that his wife drowned in the bathtub. However, none of her relatives saw her body.
Mr Ong’era said Mr Kinara lacks the legal right to bury his daughter because there existed no recognisable marriage between them, while Mr Kinara claims they were legally married.
During a court appearance at Tarrant County, Fort Worth Texas, Mr Ong’era’s lawyer, Ms Amy Lawrence, said that, despite the mysterious circumstances surrounding her sudden death, Mr Kinara had isolated Dorothy’s parents and siblings from funeral arrangements and had intentionally barred the family from viewing the body.
Decision to bury
“David Ong’era should be given the body of his deceased daughter for burial because Obadia Kinara did not have any marriage with the deceased. The deceased’s common law husband, Dennis Mose, is domiciled in Kenya, and therefore, David Ong’era, remains the legitimate family member who should have custody of the deceased’s remains,” stated Ms Lawrence.
The Nation has learnt that Ms Ong’era married Mr Mose in 2008 and they have three children. She had three other children with Mr Kinara.
However, Mr Kinara’s lawyer claimed that Mr Ong’era and his family had been uncooperative, leading to the decision to bury Dorothy without them.
Judge Allen issued a temporary injunction restraining Kinara from disposing of the body, or in any way doing anything with it, until the matter is determined in court. There will be a court appearance February 12 and the full hearing is set for March 23.
According to Ms Ong’era’s elder sister Roselyne Nyakona, the crime angle was dropped by detectives after a post-mortem exam established the cause of the death to be accidental drowning.
“If there is nothing that he is hiding, why is he blocking us from viewing the body? Why did he bury the deceased alone? His actions have left us with a lot of questions,” said Ms Nyakona.