CHICAGO (WBBM) – The body of William Berry, 54, has never even made it to the county cemetery, even though he died ten months ago.
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said he is appalled and disturbed by how indigent burials are handled, and he is calling for changes.
Cook County Medical Examiner Dr. Nancy Jones said what happened to Berry should never happen again. Jones said she will talk to the morgue administrator to make sure of that.
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Berry had been allowed to sleep in a break room at the Rogers Park Auto Body Shop, owned by Rana Saleem.
“In the nighttime he used to read a Bible,” Saleem said.
He still has the Bible.
Berry died last April from a brain aneurysm. He was found in the break room.
Saleem said Berry may have family in Florida. Berry told him his parents died in a car accident on their way to see him in jail.
He said the William Berry he knew was an honest man.
“My older brother came from New York visiting me and he was telling him, ‘Oh, I’ve got family now. Saleem is my family’. He was telling my employees, ‘I will die at this place. I will not leave Saleem.'”
Saleem offered to give Berry a proper burial, but the medical examiner’s office said they have to wait for family.
And, that was ten months ago.
No family has come forward, and even though Berry was cleared to be interred at the county grave site in Homewood, he was left off of list after list. His body sat in the cooler, and is still there.
On the inventory, the notation next to his name reads, “open box on floor.”
According to Jones, the handling of William Berry’s case was a mistake and she blames it on human error.