Ana Teresa Martin had only one simple wish when she agreed to let an Univision TV crew dig up her mother's bones and ship them off to a University of Florida expert: To find out whether she was secretly descended from the Russian Romanov dynasty. Who can't empathize with that?
But the project went horribly wrong, Martin alleges in a new lawsuit, when the reporter working the story left Univision and the company then lost her mother's bones.
Martin, a resident of Barranquilla, Colombia, says that a producer from Univision's Primer Impacto show approached her in 2004 about digging up her mother, Helana Marie Martin Delfour.
Martin says Delfour "was thought to be a descendent" of the Romanov clan, which was booted from the throne during the Russian Revolution.
Delfour's bones were turned over to Pablo Padula, then the foreign correspondent for Primer Impacto, the lawsuit says, with the understanding they'd be handled safely and later returned.
Connie Mulligan, an associate professor of anthropology at UF, did DNA tests on the remains "to determine if (Martin's) mother could be a descendent of the late Russian czar," then returned the bones to Univision.
Martin says Padula kept the bones in his desk. (Ed note: Although we have some crime-scene-esque desks here at Riptide, we salute any reporter who actually keeps human remains in their file cabinet.)
When Univision allegedly let Padula go in Sept. 2005, Martin says, they forgot to keep track of her mom's bones.
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Here's the gruesome list of what Martin says is missing:
- Martin's mother's tibia and fibia bones
- A lock of her mother's hair
- Passport photo of Delfour and Martin
- Handwriting samples
A spokeswoman for Univision says the network doesn't comment on pending litigation.