Funeral crasher wants to 'raise the body'

By Alex Mason

Jeanne Kiddie wants the man who spoilt her father's funeral by performing a bizarre ritual to be stopped before he causes grief to other families. Photo / Geoff Sloan
Jeanne Kiddie wants the man who spoilt her father's funeral by performing a bizarre ritual to be stopped before he causes grief to other families. Photo / Geoff Sloan

Police are looking for the man who disrupted a funeral in Christchurch, after he contacted the grieving family last night in a bid to visit the deceased's graveside.

The man, known as Cameron, asked to meet family at the grave of 90-year-old Harold Ritchie, so he could "raise the body".

Shocked and disgusted family members contacted police immediately, who traced the mystery man's own family and were actively seeking him throughout the night.

Police were considering trying to organise security on the cemetery.

Cameron wanted to meet the family at the cemetery at 11am today and had even told them media were welcome.

Cameron continued to call the family through the night and this morning, and told them he would be hiring machinery to dig up Mr Ritchie's grave.

The disturbing saga involving the mystery man began at Mr Ritchie's funeral at John Rhind Chapel in Richmond on Wednesday.

About 80 minutes into the service a man aged about 20, wearing a suit, walked up with a prayer book in his hands and began shaking the hands of family members.

No one questioned him because it was thought he knew Mr Ritchie.

He then went to the coffin and began chanting with his back to the mourners.

Mr Ritchie's daughter, Jeanne Kiddie said: "He put his arms up in the air and he seemed to shudder, like he was vibrating. He was shouting in tongues.

"He picked up the photo of dad from the coffin and studied it for a while. Then he went down on his knees and shouted "Wake up Harold!" and thumped on the casket.

"I was horrified, absolutely horrified."

For a moment Mrs Kiddie, who was stunned, thought the mystery man was about to try to open the casket.

The man left after being spoken to by family.

Mrs Kiddie's husband, Ross, said Cameron's phone call last night had been another blow to the family.

"We're really shattered now. We were saying we could probably get through it, we could pick ourselves up, move on, and we were getting to the stage where we said we weren't going to talk about it so much."

During this morning's phone call, the man said he believes the reason Mr Ritchie did not wake during the funeral chant was because he called him Harold.

Mr Ritchie's birth name is Malcolm, but he was known as Harold.

Read more: Mystery funeral mourner tells corpse to 'wake up'

- Christchurch Star

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