The Claim and Our Verdict
The claim: A screenshot of an article shared Jan. 1, 2023, on Facebook, has gone viral. The article is about the accidental cremation of an exhausted funeral service employee by his colleague while taking a nap.
1. The article comes from a satirical news website. There is no evidence that the story is based on a genuine incident. In fact, similar claims have been circulating online since at least 2017. The one going viral right now changed details of the articles, including names and places, and has been put in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, the claim is false.
2. The photo shared in the viral article is taken from an unrelated news article published in April 2020 by Bloomberg. The Bloomberg article was about the death toll of COVID-19 in New York and did not mention any incidents related to a funeral service worker cremated by mistake.
Our verdict: The story of “a funeral service worker cremated by mistake while taking a nap” is fabricated. The viral article originates from a satirical news website.
A screenshot of the article titled “[Global Pandemic] Funeral service worker accidentally cremated by his colleague while taking a nap | China Press” was shared Jan. 1, 2023, on Facebook.
As of the publication of this report, the Facebook post had been shared 36 times, and had received 20 comments as well as 237 likes and reactions. Similar claims had been circulating on Facebook.
The link “chinapress.com.my” shown in the screenshot of the article is the website of the Malaysian Chinese-language newspaper China Press. Keyword searches have revealed the link of the original article shared on Facebook here. However, the link is no longer valid as it shows the message “Sorry, the page does not exist.” Therefore, the China Press article could have been deleted.
Having said that, articles with the same image and title are still circulating online. One of the examples is an article published on the content farm website FUN01. The article, written in Chinese, translates in part as, “Michael Jones, an employee of a funeral company in New York was exhausted after working for sixteen hours straight to handle the influx of dead bodies due to rampant COVID-19 cases…Michael Jones’ colleague Jenna said she heard him screaming for 15 seconds after the crematory was activated for the cremation process.”
Following searches with the keywords “Michael Jones,” “16 hours” and “Jenna,”
the article, titled “New York, NY: Exhausted Funeral Home Employee Cremated by Mistake While Taking a Nap,” has been found. The article was published April 11, 2020, by the website Weekly Inquirer. It has the same details, such as the plot and characters of the story, as in the FUN01 article. It is worth noting that there is a disclaimer message at the bottom of the Weekly Inquirer article: “Disclaimer: This is satire.”
Another satirical news website, World News Daily Report, published a similar article in 2017, “Morgue employee cremated by mistake while taking a nap.” The article mentioned a funeral service worker in Texas, Henri Paul Johnson, fell asleep after being exhausted working for sixteen hours straight. One of his colleagues thought he was a dead body and moved him to the crematory. His colleague Jenna said she heard him screaming for 15 seconds as the cremation process began.
Comparing the two articles posted on World News Daily Report and Weekly Inquirer, it is apparent that the incidents mentioned were more or less alike, but with different details. For example, the victims were Henri Paul Johnson and Michael Jones in the two articles respectively; The place where the incidents happened was changed from Beaumont, Texas to New York. Similar stories appeared on different satirical news sites in 2017. However, during the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, the story has been spread again: It has been put in the context of the pandemic, while details including the victim’s names and places have been further changed.
The source of the picture shared in the viral article has been identified with a reverse image search. In the news article published April 10, 2020 by Bloomberg, there is a photo almost identical to the one in the viral article. However, the Bloomberg article did not mention any incidents about a funeral worker cremated by mistake.
Further keyword searches on international news agencies and mainstream media in the United States produced no results related to the claim.
The story of “a funeral service worker cremated by mistake while taking a nap” is fabricated. The viral article originates from a satirical news website.
- Facebook, post, Jan. 1, 2023.
- Facebook, post, Jan. 1, 2023.
- Official website of China Press.
- Facebook, post, April 13, 2020.
- China Press, “[Global Pandemic] Funeral service worker accidentally cremated by his colleague while taking a nap | China Press.”
- FUN01, “Overworked funeral service worker accidently cremated while taking a nap,” April 14, 2020.
- Weekly Inquirer, “New York, NY: Exhausted Funeral Home Employee Cremated by Mistake While Taking a Nap,” April 11, 2020.
- World News Daily Report, “Morgue employee cremated by mistake while taking a nap,” 2017.
- Bloomberg, “New York’s Daily Virus Death Toll Drops Slightly to 777,” April 10, 2020.