Florence “Rusty” Tullis

(photo from here)
Correspondent Brian Day did a story last month about how the body of Rusty Tullis was still at the LAC coroner’s. Apparently, Tullis, who was portrayed by Cher in the movie Mask, is still there. We are trying to track it down. There is also a forum about how to pay for the costs of cremation

UPDATE: The body of Florence Rusty Tullis is still at the county coroners office, nearly three months after she died. Los Angeles County officials said the remains are expected to be cremated at county expense within the next two weeks. They will hold the urn for a year for next of kin to claim.

-because we have a pay wall for Day’s article, I pasted a copy after the jump.

Title: Remains of mom who inspired movie at morgue for 2 months
Date: January 24, 2007
GLENDORA – More than two months after the death of Florence “Rusty” Tullis, the real-life mother who inspired the 1985 movie “Mask,” her body has still not been laid to rest, friends and family said.

The 70-year-old Glendora resident died Nov. 11 at Beverly Hospital in Montebello, due to infection and other conditions stemming from a motorcycle accident in Azusa on Oct. 14, said Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office Capt. Ed Winter.

She had been recovering from two broken legs at Rio Hondo Convalescent Hospital before being moved to Beverly Hospital on Nov. 10 after complaining of stomach pain and other symptoms, Winter said.

Tullis’ death, however, was not reported to the coroner’s office until Jan. 8, nearly two months after her death, Winter said. Such a delay is highly unusual, he added. “We’re supposed to get a call right away.”

“I still don’t have closure,” said Tullis’ niece, Helen Cunningham, adding the family has not yet received a satisfactory explanation of why Tullis’ body remained at the Beverly Hospital morgue for so long without being reported to the coroner.

Beverly Hospital spokeswoman Belinda Williams said that while the hospital cannot comment on any specific case, citing federal patient privacy legislation, it is the hospital’s procedure to notify the proper authorities, “as soon as humanly possible.”

State law states the coroner is to investigate any deaths, “known or suspected as a resulting in whole or in part from or related to accident or injury either old or recent,” and that any person who has charge of a person’s body at the time of death from such circumstances must “immediately notify the coroner.”

Cunningham said she had assumed the coroner had been notified, and was surprised in the weeks following the death of her aunt to learn the coroner had no record of the death.

The hospital called several times asking if arrangements had been made for Tullis’ body, but would not provide Cunningham with a death certificate, she said.

“We were trying to get the doctor to either say he wouldn’t sign it or sign it,” said Gina Currie, a friend of Tullis for the past 14 years.

“He said he would sign it, but he never did,” she said. “It’s like they forgot a body there.”

In the second week of January, the hospital informed the coroner about the death, and the body was brought to the coroner’s office for an investigation, Winter said. An autopsy was completed Jan. 16.

The coroner’s investigation is complete, and the family is now in the process of having Tullis cremated, per her wishes, Cunningham said.


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