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Morgue puts unclaimed body photos online

Cook County in Chicago hopes that someone, somewhere might identify some of the bodies in its morgue. The images, though, are tough to take.


Dr. Steve Cina, Medical Examiner of Cook County in Chicago

Fox 32 Chicago Screenshot)

The dead bodies come into your morgue every day.

Sometimes, no one comes in to identify them. Who are these people? Does no one miss them? Are they all people who lived a lonely life? Isn't there someone out there who at least knows who they are?

The Medical Examiner of Cook County in Chicago, Dr. Steve Cina, wants to give these bodies a chance of at least being known, one last time.

So he has taken the difficult decision to put images of them online.

As he told Fox 32 in Chicago: "We're hoping that that photo can trigger somebody's memory, that you know, that person grew up down the street from me, or that person used to live nearby and I know where their mom is."

Chicago News

The site doesn't make for easy viewing. Some of the pictures are painful and grotesque. Death isn't often pretty.

Images of any obvious marks of identification, such as tattoos or birthmarks, are also posted.

Cina knows that some people might find the images disturbing.

But he told Fox: "It's worth it to reunite some families."

He added: "Maybe we've just given that family a chance to end a statement with a period instead of a question mark."

The Cook County site links its images to NAMUS, a national database of unidentified bodies. Recently, this link allowed a Michigan family to find their missing daughter's body.

Some will worry that these photographs are now available for all to see. But what is the alternative?

For all its disturbing content, this site is just trying to prod memories and consciences.

Just one "success" makes it worth it.