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Barrie woman mixed up in cross-border body swap

American woman's body may have been cremated in Barrie

DNA tests are being ordered to determine if a Rhode Island woman was mistakenly cremated in Barrie.

Margaret Porkka's family opened a casket in a New Jersey funeral home last month and found a stranger inside. Police have identified her as Kathleen Togwell.

82-year-old Porkka died unexpectedly while vacationing in St. Maarten in November. Porkka's family suspects her body was confused with Togwell's. Togwell, also 82-years-old, died on the island around the same time.

Togwell's body is now on its way to Canada.

The body initially thought to be Togwell's was cremated and she was honoured with a funeral in Barrie in early December.

Porkka's family wants to take possession of the ashes if they're determined to belong to the Rhode Island woman. Porkka's daughter Lisa Kondvar said her father is "just broken", at not being able to say a goodbye to his wife.

Kondvar said bodily fluids were recovered from a casket in Barrie that might have contained her mother's body. The family has sent her hairbrush and toothbrush for DNA testing with results expected at the end of the month.

"They're just starting on it now," said Kondvar. "It's frustrating."

Foreign Affairs has been in touch both with officials in St. Maarten and Kathleen Togwell's family.

St. Maarten Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams says her government has formed a committee to investigate the case at the request of US officials.

Emerald Funeral Home director Orlando Vanterpool said, to his knowledge, he sent the correct remains but that he will provide a refund if it's determined a mistake was made.

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