Photos of unidentified bodies posted on county morgue’s website
BY LISA DONOVAN Cook County Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org March 6, 2013 12:56PM
Updated: March 7, 2013 10:11AM
Photos of three unidentified bodies have been posted to the Cook County morgue’s newly expanded website, aimed at helping loved ones scouring the Chicago region for a missing relative.
It’s the first time the Cook County medical examiner’s office website has included information about the nameless — including photos in certain cases — who have died in Cook County, officials said Wednesday when the expanded site officially went live.
After the Sun-Times first revealed last year that bodies were piling up and staff were complaining about filthy working conditions at the West Side facility, one family filed suit claiming they called the medical examiner’s office on multiple occasions looking for their loved one only to be told he wasn’t there. Turned out that Brian K. Warren’s body was not only among the dead, but allegedly among those mistreated in late 2011, the family claimed in the suit.
In January 2012, the Sun-Times reported that bodies were stacked atop each other in blue plastic tarps against a wall of the storage cooler at the morgue because of ongoing financial woes. A morgue source called it “sacrilegious,” and the Illinois Department of Labor launched an investigation, finding nearly two dozen violations.
Since then, a series of bosses and other staff have left the medical examiner’s office, including Chief Medical Examiner Nancy Jones.
Her replacement, Dr. Stephen Cina has pushed to upgrade the website.
“Relatives often think to check the websites of large cities if they are attempting to track down a family member who has disappeared,” Cina said in a prepared statement. “That’s why it’s important for Cook County to provide [a web] site for families to access.”
Loved ones can go to the site at http://www.cookcountyil.gov/portal/server.pt/community/ medical_examiner%2C_office_of/307/unidentified_persons/735.
In cases where there is a photo, viewers are first warned about the potentially graphic nature of the images before they can click ahead to examine them.
“While some of the images are graphic, they may allow a family member across the country or around the world to identify a missing loved one,” Dr. Cina said in a prepared statement.
The new website will includes a list of deceased who have been identified but whose loved ones have not claimed them or burial.