Mother whose daughter's body was misidentified wants justice

by: Kevin McCarty Updated:


TACOMA, Wash. - When Kathleen Aubrey was told an unidentified woman had been hit and killed on Mountain Highway in Spanaway last week, she was afraid it might have been her daughter, Jade Aubrey-Peterson, 25.  So Aubrey called the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office to check.

“And she goes, 'Oh, no, it’s not her, it’s not her,' ” Aubrey said. “The family has already claimed the body so it’s not her, don’t worry about it.”

Three days later Aubrey found out the body was in fact her daughter - and that she has been misidentified. “Now I’m never going to be able to hug her or tell her I love her anymore,” Aubrey wept.

The mix up left two families shocked and grief-stricken when the medical examiner’s office mistakenly identified Aubrey-Peterson’s body as that of Samantha Kennedy, 24.

On Monday, Kennedy’s family was told she was the woman hit on the Mountain Highway; and they didn’t find out the truth until Wednesday morning when the misidentification was confirmed.

“This has been the worst three days of my life,” said Kennedy’s mother, Laura Baker on Wednesday. “I told her 7-year old daughter that she was dead.”

The medical examiner’s office said the mistaken identification was made after friends of Kennedy, who had not been seen in several days, told investigators about a distinctive tattoo on her lower back that was similar to a tattoo on Aubrey-Peterson’s back.

In a statement released Wednesday, medical examiner Dr. Thomas Clark said because the woman hit had no identification on her when she died, “It was assumed the described tattoo belonged to the missing person, but it actually was a description of the tattoo on the body. The medical examiner then identified the victim as Samantha Kennedy.” 

“My heart goes out to the family that thought it was their daughter,” said Aubrey. “But I want justice for my daughter.”

A Joint Base Lewis McChord sergeant arrested on suspicion of vehicular homicide and driving under the influence was released from jail Monday without being charged while the Pierce County prosecuting attorney’s office reviews evidence.