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Dozens of bodies taken from morgue to Mt. Olivet cemetery for burial

Cemetery workers lower caskets ingraves during group burial service for indigent Mt. Olivet Cemetery Chicago Illinois Wednesday June 20 2012.

Cemetery workers lower caskets into graves during a group burial service for the indigent at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois, Wednesday, June 20, 2012. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 23, 2012 7:39AM

A day after a major shakeup at the Cook County medical examiner’s office, a parade of hearses made their way from the West Side facility to Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery on the South Side.

There, the bodies of 25 adults and the remains of 48 fetuses were laid to rest.

Wednesday’s burials — planned for several months, county officials say — come little more than 24 hours after a formal announcement of Chief Medical Examiner Nancy Jones’ departure and the ouster of one of her deputies amid criticism over bodies piling up at the morgue and unsanitary working conditions at the facility.

After the Sun-Times revealed in January that a cooler there exceeded its 300-body capacity, county officials blamed a lack of state funding for a delay in burying the dead. Specifically, the state had slashed public aid money dedicated to helping families bury a loved one who died on public assistance. The money has since been restored.

Those buried Wednesday weren’t part of that group. They were among indigent bodies that arrived at the morgue and were never claimed. They’re buried every one to two months, at taxpayer expense.

In this case, Catholic Cemeteries — part of the Archdioces of Chicago — offered free burial plots and transportation to Mount Olivet.

The county simply had to pick up the cost of the modest wooden caskets. A price tag wasn’t immediately available.

Lisa Donovan

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