NEW YORK – The remains of Estia Zafeiraki were returned home to Greece on a flight that departed New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport on February 5 and expected to reach Athens by noon on February 6. A funeral home from Rethymno, Crete, the deceased hometown, took care of the arrangements for the transfer of the body by boat to the port of Rethymno and from there to Roustika where the funeral will be held on February 7.
Estia Zafeiraki, 37, was found dead in her apartment in Long Island City, 20 days after she apparently died of natural causes. Born in Roustika, Rethymno, Crete, in 1980, she lived in New York and worked as a visual artist.
The New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner on January 29 granted permission for the transportation of Zafeiraki’s body back to Crete. The funeral home, International Funeral Service of New York, based in Brooklyn received the body, as confirmed by funeral director Pat Marmo.
Marmo pointed out that he was in contact with the family of the deceased in Crete and her relatives in New York and that her body would be repatriated in four or five days at the most.
The Chief Medical Examiner has not yet determined Zafeiraki’s final cause of death because the results of the specialized tests, including toxicology, have not yet come in, according to a representative of the Medical Examiner’s Office. The spokesperson confirmed the New York Police Department’s initial finding that the death was due to natural causes and pointed out that “in such cases the results may take up to two months.”
Asked why their relatives chose International Funeral Service of New York, Marmo explained that they have experience with “funerals for individuals from other countries and that they provide facilities, including the purchase of the coffin.
“The families of the deceased have the ability to buy the coffin in their own homelands and this, if anything, reduces the cost of the funeral,” he added.
The expenses of the transfer of the body and the funeral of Zafeiraki were covered by the donations from the GoFundMe campaign, whose goal was $20,000. Through the donations of 178 people, it raised a total amount of $24,603.
Any remaining money, after payment of the funeral expenses and GoFundMe’s fee, will go to Zafeiraki’s mother.
The companies that Zafeiraki created designs for included Alma Bank and the Association of Greek American Professional Women (AGAPW). According to her biography on coroflot.com, she graduated in the field of Communication and Graphic Design from the prestigious Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York and from the Vakalo School of Art and Design in Athens, Greece, magna cum laude.
The news of Zafeiraki’s tragic death caught the attention of the Greek media and the Cretans, who have reprinted or used excerpts of The National Herald articles on her death, the fundraising campaign, and the details of the funeral. The website cretedoc.gr published a thank you message from the family of the deceased which follows:
“With deep emotion and gratitude, we would like to inform you that the money has been collected for the return journey of the remains of our Estia from New York to Rethymnon and we would like to thank all those who contributed.
Thank you for your condolences and support in our deep mourning for our premature and unfair loss.
Throughout her life, Estia gave generously and wholeheartedly, pure and sincere love, which you have repaid to the fullest extent.
We thank you from the depths of our heart.
The mother: Eleni Zafeiraki, the sisters: Maria, Argyro and Georgia”