Security staff at a Black Country hospital have been suspended after jewellery belonging to a pensioner disappeared while her body lay in a mortuary.
Bridget Armstrong, of Tansey Green, Pensnett, died suddenly on August 13 and a post mortem was carried out at Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley.
The theft was uncovered when undertakers JR Jones, based in Gornal, arrived at the hospital on Friday to collect the 71-year-old's body.
Mrs Armstrong's son, Stephen, who also lives in Pensnett, said the family was "devastated".
He said: "We feel that mum's body has been violated. Somebody has made a concerted effort to go into the mortuary and take jewellery from my mum's body, and they should burn in hell.
"It is grave robbing. Not only has the family had to suffer the pain of losing mum suddenly but also the heartbreak of someone prising a ring off her finger.
"My sister was going to have the wedding ring and one of the necklaces was a present from mum's grandchildren." The Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, has launched an investigation and police are also conducting an inquiry.
A number of security officers, employed by contractor Interserve Facilities Management Ltd, have been suspended.
Clare Craddock, spokeswoman for the trust, said: "The trust takes its responsibility for the welfare of its patients very seriously and would like to reassure staff, patients and visitors that we continually review the security requirements within our three hospitals with our partner Interserve Facilities Management Ltd, making improvements where necessary.
"We acknowledge that this incident has caused some distress to the relatives of the patients concerned and offer our sincere apologies." Access to the mortuary is controlled by an electronic swipe-card system.
Ms Craddock added: "An internal investigation into the matter is currently being carried out by Interserve Facilities Management Ltd in partnership with the trust, and we believe that as part of the investigation members of Interserve staff have been suspended from work."
Stephen Downing, funeral director for JR Jones, said: "In 40 years of being an undertaker I have never known anything like this."
Mrs Armstrong's husband, Bernard, was too griefstricken to talk about the thefts. A funeral service was due to take place at St Mark's Church, in Pensnett, yesterday afternoon.