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Family wants answers after woman's body left out overnight

Your Tuesday Evening Headlines for April 5 02:30

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) — Billy Green spent the night of New Year's Eve sitting in the rain watching over his sister Murlene's body.

"I had to do what I had to do," he explained.

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Murlene Green  CBS DFW

Murlene's son, Damon, found her at home at 8 o'clock that evening. "I can't tell if she's breathing or not," he told 911. "No, she's not. Oh my God."

Paramedics with Dallas Fire Rescue tried to resuscitate her, but couldn't. Dallas police investigated, but found no sign of foul play. When they all left, a neighbor's pictures show Murlene's body was left behind, lying on the porch of her home.

"I was told the paramedics brought her outside to revive her," said Billy, who arrived while police were still on the scene to discover his sister was dead.
Billy said he was still in shock when people told him they were releasing her body to him.

"It just kind of messed me up," said Billy. "I couldn't grasp why she was left here."

A note in the dispatch records "req DFR to scene to transport" appears to show police requested the fire department send an ambulance to pick up Murlene's body.

Another note "DFR transported her to the ME office" indicates an ambulance took her to the Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office.

The ME's office, though, confirmed that never happened. It opted not to send anyone to the scene, as it normally wouldn't in cases involving a natural death.
Both Billy and police said they spoke to Golden Gate Funeral Home and believed it was on its way when officers left sometime before midnight.

"The understanding was that they would be here within 20 minutes," said Billy.

The funeral home workers, though never showed up that night.

Billy waited nearly nine hours, using a comforter to shield his sister from the cold.

"I couldn't leave her unattended so what choice did I have? I couldn't lift her. I sat here and looked at the body and, well… it ticked me off."

Damon, who declined to interview for this story citing his emotional state, returned the next morning, and with the help of a neighbor said he dragged his mother inside.

When Murlene's older brother, Elliott, later arrived, he said he found his sister's body on the floor of her home just inside the front door. He reached out to Dallas police, to CBS11, and to the funeral home.

A CBS11 photographer arrived at the home Saturday afternoon more than 18 hours after Murlene's death to find police had returned to the scene and funeral home workers were finally picking up her body.

"I couldn't understand why police didn't stay until either the ambulance or somebody picked the body up," said Elliott. "That made me very angry, highly angry. I'm having trouble controlling it now. But, something needs to be done. And, like I said, I'm sure in the hell if this had been a white neighborhood, they'd been out here."

A spokesperson for Dallas Fire Rescue, Jason Evans, told CBS11 when paramedics perform CPR and pronounce someone dead, "we leave that person's body where it was when we finished. If it's outside, exposed, we take measures to cover them up as not to compromise the integrity of the scene prior to the arrival of DPD and/or the medical examiner."

The Dallas Police Department also said its officers "followed departmental protocol" in releasing Murlene's body to her brother and leaving him in charge.
A records request for a written copy of "any policies DPD has regarding the release of a body" though was returned.

"There are no responsive documents to your request," read the response.

"If that's the policy, then someone sure as hell needs to change that policy because that is just unconscionable to leave a body laying on the ground that long," said Elliot.

Murlene, her brothers said, was the rock of the family. Even in death, they believe, she deserved her dignity.

"I wouldn't treat a dog like that," said Elliott.

Golden Gate Funeral Home's owner, John Beckwith, told CBS11 it didn't respond to the initial request to retrieve Murlene's body because police hadn't notified the medical examiner's office of her death yet. The medical examiner's records contradict that. Further efforts to reach Beckwith were unsuccessful.

The Green family believes they were left in their grief to sort through multiple miscommunications.

They are hoping Dallas will review what happened to them and implement a policy requiring police stay on scene in the event of a body is outside and exposed until it is picked up.

Both the police and fire departments declined to respond to the family's assertion this would not have happened in a wealthier or predominantly white neighborhood.

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