Jury awards $8 million to Julie Mott's family

Julie Mott's family sued Mission Park Funeral Home

SAN ANTONIO – A jury awarded $8 million Tuesday to a San Antonio couple as compensation over the loss of their daughter's body by a funeral home.

The parents of Julie Mott had sought $10 million in a lawsuit against Mission Park Funeral Homes "for past and future mental anguish." The lawsuit accused the funeral home of negligence and gross negligence.

Mark Greenwald, a lawyer representing the Mott family, said his clients are satisfied with the verdict, but the lawsuit was about more than just money.

"This isn't about the money. Money isn't going to return the body of their daughter to them. And that's just a fact. It's a sad fact," Greenwald said.

Mott family lawyers told the jury during closing arguments in the civil trial Tuesday that Mission Park broke a promise to the family.

"They failed miserably," plaintiff lawyer Alex Katzman said. "They broke their promise to provide care, control and custody of Julie Mott's body."

Mott's body disappeared following her memorial service in August 2015 while awaiting transfer to a crematorium.

Katzman argued that Mission Park's security at the funeral home was inadequate and that employees lacked proper training.

Rick Reyna, the lead attorney for Mission Park, said the body was stolen and "that was something that the funeral home never could have anticipated." 

Reyna said that "Bill Wilburn (Mott's ex-boyfriend) stole the body" because he "obsessed by Julie and opposed to cremation."

Wilburn was questioned by police as a person of interest, but has not been charged.  

Mott's body was not found.

The jury deliberated for three hours.

About the Authors:

Paul Venema is a courthouse reporter for KSAT with more than 25 years experience in the role.

David Ibañez has been managing editor of KSAT.com since the website's launch in October 2000.