CHICAGO (CBS) — A Chicago man’s family was desperate to find him and filed a police report.
Then, they got news they prayed they wouldn’t hear.
Police told the family of Keuntae Miles that he died months ago at O’Hare International Airport, and his body was cremated three days after the missing persons report was filed.
As CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported, the body of Miles, 30, sat in storage for a month at the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office after he was found dead in March.
Relatives want to know how it is possible that three months could go by without being notified – especially considering that Miles was found with several forms of identification and addresses among his belongings.
Mary Walton’s grief is compounded by her anger.
“Somebody messed up somewhere,” Walton said. “That’s what I said.”
Walton began looking for Miles, her grandson, in March.
“I called the hospitals, psych wards, I called the shelters,” she said.
With no luck, she filed a missing persons report on April 17. Weeks passed, worries grew, and then Walton got a letter in early June from Chicago Police asking her to contact them about Miles’ case.
“Well the letter that came from him, his name was spelled wrong,” Walton said. “I said, it’s not even his name. How do you expect to find him with his name on there?”
Then on Saturday, June 20, police told Walton and Miles’ siblings that he was dead. He had been found dead of an overdose at O’Hare on Thursday, March 19, and his body had been taken to the Medical Examiner’s office.
“And to find out they cremated him after we did the police report? That wasn’t right at all,” said Miles’ sister, Breyania Strong.
When asked what questions she had for the police and the Medical Examiner’s office, Strong said, “How did you all let this happen?”
Miles’ family said the items found with him made identifying him easy.
“He had two phones, a charger. He had his ID from jail,” Strong said.
He also had paperwork with Walton’s address on it. His name and date of birth on the Medical Examiner’s bag was also correct. But his handwritten last name was not.
Months of anguish, Miles’ family said, could have been avoided.
“Two addresses in there, and no one came to knock on the door to tell us that he was gone,” Walton said. She said authorities were never able to connect the dots for three months.
Chicago Police now say the Bureau of Internal Affairs has opened an investigation into the matter.
“I don’t ever want anybody else, nobody else, to have to go through this,” Strong said. “It’s not right.”
A representative of the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office said they did not have a specific next of kin to contact, but are looking into what more could or should have been done.