Orlando mom horrified after daughter’s used casket auctioned, sold on Facebook without permission

ORLANDO, Fla. — Cassandra Jackson still colors her hair purple from time to time, adding in matching false eyelashes when she’s thinking about her daughter.


The memories of 18-year-old Aniyyah are hard to forget. Not with the radiant smile shining at her from every picture, or the four-year-old girl that’s now under the custody of her grieving grandmother.

Equally hard to forget is the man the family suspects of killing Jackson is still walking free.

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Any healing Jackson has felt since her daughter was shot at a friend’s home in March of 2021 was shredded last month when her phone blew up with text messages and calls asking if someone had illegally exhumed Aniyyah’s body.

“I just cried and cried,” Jackson remembered.

Attached to the text messages was a photo of Aniyyah’s casket, wrapped in vivid purple with her face and name plastered on nearly every square inch, for sale on Facebook Marketplace for $78.

The seller claimed the funeral home that owned the storage unit the casket was discovered in went out of business.

“Use as a Halloween decoration or maybe a tool box,” the description on the listing said.

Jackson’s daughter Shanika said the casket and custom wrap had cost their family $5,000, and no one asked their permission to sell it, much less at that amount.

They said the funeral home they used, Celebrations of Life Mortuary and Cremation Services (CoL), which is still open and operational, encouraged the family to buy it despite their desire to cremate Aniyyah.

They said CoL told them if they paid for the casket, they’d be able to use it for future funerals, and the business would place the casket in storage.

It’s a practice other funeral home operators said is far from the norm of offering rental caskets for a far smaller price so families who choose to cremate can also have a viewing.

According to video evidence, as well as accounts from the family, former employees of Celebrations of Life and the man who sold the casket on Facebook Marketplace, the casket wound up in the storage unit at some point between January 2022 and November 2023.

At some point, the required payments for the unit stopped being made, and the unit went up for auction.

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The marketplace seller, through text messages, said he contacted the woman who owned the unit and offered to sell the contents back, including the two caskets found inside, one of which was Aniyyah’s.

He said the woman agreed to pay, but never met him to hand over the money, so he put the casket up for sale. He told the family it sold about a week before they reached out to him.

When he reached out to the buyer of the casket, the man refused to sell the casket back to the family. Jackson is still hoping he has a change of heart.

“I just want the casket back,” she said. “That’s the last thing that she laid in.”

CoL and its owner, Tekeavias Byrd, have been in hot water even before the casket fiasco happened. In November of last year, WFTV witnessed Byrd demanding a family pay him thousands of dollars before he released a body to a different funeral home, another practice funeral home operators said wasn’t normal or warranted.

The Florida State Department of Funeral, Cemetery, and Consumer Services has been investigating CoL and Byrd ever since.

In March, the board overseeing the department sent Byrd a cease-and-desist letter demanding he stop interacting with families who use his business, since he is not a licensed funeral director.

Investigators showed up at his business a few days later, spending hours inside before leaving without comment.

CoL is listed on the board’s agenda Thursday under disciplinary action, but the agenda does not detail any possible votes the board could take. A person familiar with the board’s proceedings said the business’ license to operate might be on the table.

Byrd, who is also facing a felony charge in connection to a stolen rental car and a lawsuit from a casket company for nonpayment, did not answer questions about the casket or the pending disciplinary action emailed to him in advance of this article’s publication.

He did claim everything was in order at his business in an on-camera interview following the investigators’ visit in March.

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Members of the Jackson family said they also tried to get an explanation about how Aniyyah’s casket came to be auctioned off, but he refused to return their calls.

Meanwhile, they’re warning people about their experience.

“It sounds good, but it it’s not good. It’s not good at all,” Cassandra Jackson said. “I never would’ve known a funeral home to do something like this.”

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