The family of a Marine whose body was returned from Greece without his heart has broadened its lawsuit to include the Greek government and a hospital.
Craig and Beverly LaLoup of Coatesville, Pa., are also suing the U.S. Defense Department over the remains of their son, Sgt. Brian LaLoup, who committed suicide in Greece, where he was stationed. The family said it learned about the missing organ accidentally, weeks after the Marine's burial. The family also says it was eventually given a heart that wasn't his.
“This is his heart. This is his soul. This is what made Brian who he is,” Beverly LaLoup told the Associated Press this week.
In the latest filing, the family added the Greek government and state-run Evangelismos General Hospital as defendants. The Athens hospital performed an illegal autopsy on LaLoup and kept his heart, the family maintains.
LaLoup, who served in Afghanistan and South Africa, was part of the security detail at the U.S. Embassy in Greece. He was reportedly despondent over a recent breakup when he went drinking with a Marine superior. Afterward, he obtained a weapon from a storage area and shot himself.
He died Aug. 12, 2012, at Evangelismos, and the autopsy was conducted six days later. The heart was found to be missing during a second autopsy conducted by U.S. military officials 10 days later, after the body arrived in Dover, Del.
The family learned of the missing heart Sept. 17, 2012, two weeks after the funeral. It asked the Greek government what had happened.
According to the lawsuit, the Greek government then allegedly sent a heart, saying it was LaLoup's, but DNA testing showed it was not.
Christos Failadis, a spokesman at the Greek Embassy in Washington, told reporters that the heart was kept for toxicology tests. He has declined to answer questions about what happened to it or why the family later received a heart belonging to someone else. He has offered the government’s condolences.
The family’s lawsuit seeks damages for emotional distress.
But mostly, the family said, it wants answers.