There are no flowers, no sermons, and no mourners when Detroit’s unclaimed dead are unceremoniously buried in mass graves.
The Wayne County Morgue is home to over 200 unclaimed bodies, many of them have been stored in freezers for years because families are unable or unwilling to claim them.
Local 4 witnessed 12 of these corpses finally laid to rest, though with little of the dignity one expects at even the humblest of funerals.
A van carried 12 frozen bodies from the morgue to a Detroit funeral home, where they are placed into bare wooden caskets, and then taken to a Canton cemetery. Because it’s cheaper, the bodies buried together, in what can only be described as a mass grave, stacked in groups of four.
No one was there to say a prayer, lay a wreath, or shed a tear.
Once the first group of four is buried, the work crew moves over a few inches and the next four bodies are buried together.
When the work is done 12 bodies are stacked in an area no more than eight feet by ten feet. The tiny hole is covered in dirt, but there are no grave markers. When the grass grows back nothing will indicate that 12 people are buried here.
Fortunately, they will not be forgotten completely.
Four times a year, volunteers come together to remember the unwanted bodies buried in Wayne County. While these people aren’t relatives—they likely never knew the deceased—they come because they believe no one should leave this world alone.