44 Bodies Have Lain In Morgue For At Least 10 Months

CHICAGO (CBS) — The Cook County Board President’s office says a staggering 44 bodies have been in the morgue cooler for 10 months or longer, awaiting burial.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports, county Commissioner John Fritchey (D-12th), has pushed for reforms in the burial of indigents, and to say he is troubled by the revelation would be an understatement.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports

“I’m neither surprised nor alarmed,” Fritchey said. “I’m deeply disturbed and concerned.”

Fritchey said reforms are needed at the county Medical Examiner’s office, and they’re needed right now.

“First and foremost, we have to look at the systems that are in place and see where the problem is. There’s no reason why we should be having backlogs of burials going more than 10 months in time,” Fritchey said. “We need to figure out how those systems need to be changed, change them, and get these changes put in place as soon as we can.”

And it shouldn’t be a huge ordeal to implement the reforms, Fritchey said.

“This is not rocket science,” he said. “We can look to other jurisdictions to see how they do this. They don’t have the problems that we do. So obviously something isn’t working the right way.”

The report of the backlog of bodies comes on the heels of numerous other complaints about conditions at the morgue. Last week, a funeral director called the state of the morgue “horrendous.”

The funeral director talked about one recent incident where he had 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.

WBBM Newsradio has been told that the Medical Examiner is not doing interviews right now.

But Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Nancy Jones 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.

County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has sent a team to the medical examiner’s office to look at the system.

  • Fedup

    She should have gone herself!

  • doesn't surprise me at all..

    Your exorbitant tax dollars “at work”! Face it ! C(R)OOK COUNTY is run by MORONS!!!! It always has been and,sadly,always will be. I always said that C(R)OOK Count’ys motto should be “Make ’em wait.” Even in death they make you wait while they TAKE THEIR TIME!! This is where your taxes are going!

    • Afro

      She already looks like she came from there

      • danthefan

        there being vetted by raum. these are eligible voters. obamas going to need all he can .i wouldnt be surprised if some of them vote several times.

      • Avg Joe

        did anybody shake them to see if they were county or city workers….with then cut backs need more sleep,…OR …are they saving them to vote, thats just business as usual, nothing to see move along now…..

  • smooth

    Whatever happened to the work ethic of “Doing whatever it takes to get the job done” especially from those in a high profile position. How bout criminal charges against those responsible? Let’s send a message to those incompetent that this will NOT be tolerated

    • Fedup

      Seriously…how is this any different from what was going on over at Burr Ridge Cemetary?

  • http://www.fritchey.com/january-24-2012-44-bodies-have-lain-in-morgue-for-at-least-10-months.html January 24, 2012: 44 Bodies Have Lain in Morgue For At Least 10 Months | Commissioner John Fritchey

    […] Link to full article […]

  • Duane Northrup

    This truly is an outrageous situation but, not because the medical examiner has all these people stacking up at the Cook County Morgue. It is outrageous because the Cook County Board of Commissioners has cut the medical examiner’s budget so deep over the past several years and now they are bowing to public pressure because the medical examiner has bodies that have been lying in the morgue for ten months. The reality of this is that the State of Illinois and the Cook County Board of Commissioners share equal and / or greater responsibility for this issue than the medical examiner. What does the public expect the medical examiner to do in this situation? It is extremely expensive to bury bodies at public expense. The medical examiner has an equal responsibility to the tax payers of Cook County to handle these cases in the most cost effective manner. Currently, donation to medical, mortuary, and/or forensic science is the most cost effective manner of handling these cases however; the Board of Commissioners, through micromanagement, stopped the medical examiner’s attempt to donate these bodies to science after being unclaimed for two weeks, even though the law allows the medical examiner to donate them. This problem is not isolated to Cook County only. Every coroner/medical examiner in the state of Illinois is facing similar issues. The difference is Cook County is on a larger scale due to population size. The State of Illinois’ budget crisis has added even greater burden on coroners and medical examiners in Illinois. The state has notoriously taken nine months or longer to reimburse funeral homes for public aid burials and over the last couple years has continuously stated they do not have any money to pay these expenses. Funeral Homes are not banks. They are private businesses that do not have to do anything when someone dies without being paid up front. Over the years, funeral homes have absorbed these losses and have now begun refusing these cases without prior payment. If Cook County and the rest of Illinois want these unclaimed/indigent bodies buried at tax payer expense, the county boards and State are going to have make some concessions somewhere else and start paying their bills on time.

    • jew jew be

      why dont the people who dont take responsibilty for their dead, be forced to SURRENDER THEIR BODIES!! 400 pounds….That sounds like a morally responsible being….Wonder what they spent all their money on. Cook county should put a burial tax on all junk food. Just go drop those bodies in the forest preserve, or into the everglades.

  • ChicagObama

    They have to keep ’em until at least November.

    How else will they vote for me?

    Rahm? Call me…

  • Arvadadan

    Should go back to the old Chicago way from Prohibition days, a 55 gal drum and a bag of cement. Then out in the lake a few miles…

  • cyberties

    They are waiting until the election in November 2012.

  • urstrange

    Leave them there for 10 more months and they can vote for O.thugo again.

    • Jeff

      That’s good! Unfortunately probably true!

  • County Citizen

    The Cook County Board of Commissioners needs to realize that Cook County isn’t a sleepy hick-town. 45% of the population of the State of Illinois resides in Cook County. Nearly 100 people die in Cook County every day!! Where do you store all these unclaimed bodies? You can’t bury United States Veterans in paupers field, however, the Federal Government (Department of Veteran’s Affairs) is slow to act and give the proper information back to the CCME of who is and is not a veteran. Gov. Quinn stopped public aid burials back in August. Again, I ask, what do you do with all these bodies. I ask you to interview funeral directors, mortuary science instructors, police officers and anyone else in the business and see what they say. The people making negative comments have no clue as to what is the real problem. Especially the County Commissioners.

  • Gee Whiz

    They are holding them for the fall elections. Doesn’t matter that they are dead – in Chicago they just keep voting!

  • mike

    whew ! a decomposed 400 pounder turning to liquid.

  • AZsense

    Do like Sheriff Joe and have jail inmates dig some holes…
    ….What is so hard and expensive about that?

  • Dee Reynolds

    why continue storing the decedents? Create guidelines for unclaimed dead, and if a body remains after the specified time period, cremate them and inter in a mass grave. This is much more cost effective versus burials, where the county must eat the cost of opening and closing a grave, casketing, storage, etc. Perhaps if they implemented a plan like this, they could afford to upgrade their coolers.

  • John G

    The Chicago politicos are saving them for the election. Those are votes, folks.

  • nomoregore

    Those stiffs are BO’s margin of victory. Maybe they were Rahm’s, too.

  • Jermaingy

    I think if sears gets a $250 million dollar tax break they should have to take the bodies…throw them in the linens department, nobody goes there.

  • wazq

    this reminds me of the article in the tribune yesterday, about how the state is taking morally corrupt and insecure people off the street and paying for them to have a place to live. while all other states are cutting critical necessities to bring down budget costs, illinois is expanding spending to help everyone, even those not from here.

  • http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/01/27/pastors-decry-conditions-at-medical-examiners-office/ Pastors Decry Conditions At Medical Examiner’s Office « CBS Chicago

    […] Reports of the deplorable conditions at the morgue have been making headlines for weeks. WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reported earlier this week that 44 bodies have been found in the mor… […]

  • http://medixmatch.com/pastors-decry-conditions-at-medical-examiners-office-cbs-local-13794/ Pastors Decry Conditions At Medical Examiner’s Office – CBS Local

    […] Reports of the deplorable conditions at the morgue have been making headlines for weeks. WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reported earlier this week that 44 bodies have been found in the mor… […]

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