Funeral Director: Conditions At Cook County Morgue Are ‘Horrendous’

CHICAGO (CBS) — “Horrendous” is how one funeral director describes conditions inside the Cook County Medical Examiner’s cooler.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports, the funeral director says a cooler that was supposed to be used for decomposed bodies broke down, and with no money to fix it, the bodies of the recently deceased were placed along with the severely decomposed bodies.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports

“The odors down there are horrendous,” he says.

The funeral director asked that we not identify him because he still deals with the Medical Examiner’s office.

Recently, the funeral director arrived at the Medical Examiner’s office recently to pick up a body.

“They brought out a body,” he tells WBBM Newsradio. “It was 400 pounds and decomposed, in three inches of liquid. And I said, ‘Now what do you want me to do with this?’ And everybody disappeared.

“So,” he says, “I went to administration and they took care of it, but you shouldn’t have to ask.”

The funeral director says the deceased should be treated with more dignity.

“Here’s the largest county’s medical examiner’s (office),” he says, “and it’s the lowest amount of dignity. These are still people. These are not just bodies. And to them it seems it’s just bodies.”

The funeral director says conditions have been bad for decades, but he adds that now, the employees are better than they had been.

“They’re not yelling at you and calling you names,” he says.

Cook County Board President Tony Preckwinkle says she’s permanently detailed a senior staffer to the medical examiner’s office, with an eye to reducing the backlog of unburied bodies.

Preckwinkle acknowledged state cuts in assistance for indigent burials but said that’s only part of the problem.

Asked if she thinks better management could reduce the backlog of bodies in the medical examiner’s office, Preckwinkle said, “Yes.”

Asked if Cook County needs a new medical examiner, Preckwinkle paused a full five seconds and said: “I’ve previously expressed concerns about management in this office, and I think I’ll leave it at that.”

WBBM Newsradio was not able to reach Medical Examiner Dr. Nancy Jones for comment. But she said last week that a recent rise in the number of bodies at the morgue has happened, in part, because the State of Illinois has slashed aid to help pay for burials, the Sun-Times Media Wire reported.

  • Just the Average Joe

    Maybe these bodies should be frozen until they are claimed, or set period of time has expired. The County struggles to keep all services up to par as it also must pay for the indigent care of elders, housing, hospital cost, incarceration, judicial process, and various other issues for a large group that consumes more than they ever pay. This can’t continue with the large number of free loaders, and it impacts every part of County and City government.

  • Chii

    I agree with both of you. There will not be a solutoin until you get rid of the thieves. This is a very corrupt State. I can’t wait to get out of here.

    • Rosalie Flores


    • Kozette Livinglifewithoutyou Foster-Blackmon


  • trish d

    Perhaps this is what our so called Alerdermen and women should be looking into rather than wanting to license a dog owner!! This is so much more important and where is the great Cardinal George to step up and be vocal? This should be much more important than making remarks about the gays and kkk. These may not be live, breathing bodies but they once were and they should be treated with all the dignity and respect one can give.

  • Fumanchu

    This matter is similar to the Burr Oaks incident. Where is Tom Dart ?

  • Joe in Missouri

    Lets try this again….
    As usual none of the sheeple have freaking clue at to the cause and the cure of the simplest of things.

    Government never does a dam* thing right I think we can agree on this. I am assuming these are poor people that died with no money…..

    • Joe in Missouri

      And try it again……


      We can also buy dirt cheap caskets made by anyone that wants to make them. I imagine in the communist state of IL you can only buy expensive funeral director caskets.

      Perhaps if the people went to city council meetings, county meetings, and state meetings perhaps this cloud of tyranny could be slowly lifted from the communist state of IL.

      • inalienablewrights

        This software suks

      • inalienablewrights

        continually keeps you from posting

    • Cheryl

      I hope your house never catches fire, or you need an ambulance or the police. Because they’re part of the government too, you know.

  • Annie

    The stacked bodies are horrifying.
    My deceased mini-pinscher’s remains were treated with more dignity than these human remains.
    Funeral homes that are making a killing financially (no pun intended) should also offer their community services to assist families in need of proper servies to bury their loved ones.

    • Gary Gnu

      You are not suggesting free handouts, are you? Don’t you think there are far too many freebies already?

  • Make Cracker Snacks

    Soylent Green is people.

  • inalienablewrights

    Soma is Yumm yumm you Alpha.

  • NWA,Leonard Goldberg et/al are IDIOTS!!!

    @ inalienablerights:
    FINALLY someone posts something INTELLIGENT!!!!

    • inalienablewrights

      LOL accidents happen

  • Should Be Chillin In Da Hood

    All kidding aside, what about renting a big refrigerated trailer. Just make sure not reuse it at Chicagofest.

  • Larry

    This is a simple issue. Take them all down to Burr Oak. Bury them in body bags, a dead person isn’t going to care, and bury them 10 to a grave. This is not rocket science, it is simply a money issue. The taxpayers should be first in this type of situation!!!

    • inalienablewrights

      You hit the nail on the head. Cremation may even be cheaper.

      Composting would be the ultimate, but I think that would be politically incorrect. :-)

    • Gary Gnu

      Excellent idea, Larry! You are truly a scholar! Simple solutions to simple problems. I’m sure most TAXPAYERS will agree completely!!!!!!!

  • Kozette Livinglifewithoutyou Foster-Blackmon


    • Ralph

      Kozette, who are you agreeing with?

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