Kilgore family seeks answers to family member's fate in Africa

KILGORE, TX (KLTV) - By Bob Hallmark - bio | email

KILGORE, TX (KLTV) - An East Texas family is trying to unravel a mystery as to what happened to a family member who supposedly died on a trip to Africa. Now, they are being told they have to pay thousands of dollars just to get the family member's body home.

Mother of three, Lashondra Renee Fortson, 38, of Kilgore had never traveled farther than Shreveport, but on March 17th, she went on a trip to Africa.

"She was very excited," said Fortson's cousin Faye Haskin. "She's never been out of the United States. She always wanted to go to another country, so she chose to go to Nigeria."

But, a month into the trip, officials claiming to be with a hospital in Lagos, Nigeria called saying Fortson had gone into a diabetic coma. Days later, they called saying she had died.

"When I was notified of her being dead, I was like, 'Oh no, no, this can't be true,'" said Shondra's mother, Sherylynn Fortson.

"I was in disbelief that she would go abroad and end up dead," said family friend Darlene Wells.

Then, strangely, they were told by embassy and Nigerian officials that they had to pay thousands of dollars to get Lashondra's body home.

"$30,000, then $7,000, then it ended up at $10,000," Darlene said.

They have no death certificate or official notice. The family called numerous U.S. government agencies - even Congressman Louie Gohmert's office for help.

"As far as we know there could be something fraudulent taking place," Wells said.

"I want to see if we can get her body back home so I can see her for the last chance," says Lashondra's 9-year-old son, Latrelus Williams.

They are left with the question, what happened to Lashondra on what should have been the trip of her life?

Fortson's family is trying to contact a number of government agencies to find out exactly what happened to her.

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