MIDLOTHIAN — A Midlothian family is giving credit to the media for assisting in helping make the funeral arrangements possible for a beloved aunt, while also seeking continued help in locating a missing cousin.

On Oct. 30, the Daily Light, along with WFFA Channel 8 in Dallas, reported a family’s inability to make funeral arrangements for Otelia Clara Shenkir, a Cleburne resident who passed away in a nursing facility in late October.

Wayne Nance and his wife Shannon, of Midlothian, were assisting the family with the arrangements when they discovered that Shenkir’s son Mark Anthony Shenkir was missing.

Although Shenkir left detailed, hand-written instructions for her funeral and had more than enough funds in her bank accounts at First Financial Bank and Wells Fargo in Cleburne to cover the $8,300 funeral, she did not have a will and the banks would not release the funds until her son, who is on record as her next of kin, authorizes the transaction.

Additionally, the funeral home had initially refused to proceed with arrangements until her son authorized the service.

Following the media reports, Nance said both Wells Fargo and Rosser Funeral Home in Cleburne, “went above and beyond to help us provide my wife’s aunt with a proper Christian burial.”

“The entire family wants to express our appreciate to the media, to Wells Fargo and to Rosser Funeral Home for allowing us to bury Aunt Otelia in a proper, timely manner,” Nance said. “For nearly a week, everyone was telling us their hands were tied and there was nothing that could be done. It’s good to know there are people that still believe in doing the right thing and we want to thank them.”

The ordeal began immediately after Shenkir’s passing.

Although Nance’s wife had been visiting her aunt since she was placed in the nursing facility in mid-August, he said they had had little contact with her cousin.

While trying to locate the cousin, Nance and his wife went to the aunt’s home (where Mark had lived with his mother) and discovered Mark’s wallet containing his driver’s license, all of his credit cards, cash and his cell phone sitting on a desk in his room. His clothes and suitcases appeared to be undisturbed and there were no indications that he had left on a trip. Nance also discovered what appeared to be dried blood on the wall in his room as if a struggle had taken place.

The Cleburne Police Department was called to the home and began an investigation. Nance said the Cleburne Police Department informed him there had been no activity on Mark’s credit cards, bank account or cell phone since mid-August, and there were no reports that he had been stopped by any law enforcement agency.

A missing person report was issued by the Cleburne Police Department Monday, Oct. 28, seeking information on the whereabouts of Mark Anthony Shenkir, 47, described as six-feet, two-inches tall, brown eyes, brown hair and weighing between 300-350 pounds.

To date, the family is still seeking the public’s help in locating the missing cousin.

Nance explained that with Aunt Otelia’s next-of-kin officially missing, both banks where she held checking accounts refused to release funds directly to the funeral home, even though he offered to sign a letter of guarantee to cover the $8,300 service. The funeral home initially told the family it would not provide the service without Mark’s approval. Unless they could find Mark, Nance said they were told it could be weeks, if not months before they could hold the funeral service.

“It’s odd that after the Daily Light and Channel 8 started asking questions, things started to change,” Nance said. “Wells Fargo released $8,300 of Aunt Otelia’s funds from her checking account directly to the funeral home and the funeral home agreed to proceed with the funeral she had requested in a notebook containing her last wishes.”

A best-selling author and successful businessman, Nance and his wife relocated to Midlothian three years.

He said he also wants to thank Midlothian Police Chief Carl Smith and Midlothian Police Lieutenant Cody McKinney for their assistance in working with the Cleburne Police Department and beginning the search for the missing cousin.

“Chief Smith and Lt. McKinney have been absolutely wonderful in helping us, even though Shannon’s aunt lived in a different city. We can’t thank them enough for what they’ve done and continue to do while we try and find Mark and pray that he’s OK.”

Anyone with information on Mark Anthony Shenkir is being asked to contact the Cleburne Police Department at 817-645-0980.

While the family has been able to provide his wife’s aunt with a proper burial, he said because she did not leave a will, the ordeal is far from over.

“In addition to expressing our thanks to all those who have helped us during the past few weeks, I also want to urge everyone to make sure they have a legal will — and for children with elderly parents, make sure they have a will and their affairs are in order before they pass,” Nance said. “We don’t teach this in school and we don’t talk about this, but it impacts families every day. We make assumptions that everything will be taken care of, but the truth is without a will, your estate goes into a legal quagmire that not only can take years to work its way through the courts, but destroy families in the process.

“Thanks to compassionate souls, we were able to bury Aunt Otelia. For a few days, it looked like that wouldn’t happen for quite a while,” Nance said. “We hope to find Mark safe and sound, but even when we do, he’s got a giant mess on his hands trying to settle his mom’s estate.”