Jewish Fund donates $60K to give unclaimed bodies proper burials

Funeral homes donate time, services to ensure stacked, unclaimed bodies at Wayne County Morgue get put to rest


DETROIT – The images from the Local 4 Defenders' investigation are difficult to watch.

More than 200 unwanted bodies are shown stacked on racks at the Wayne County Morgue. In some cases, the bodies have been there for years. The bodies eventually are buried in mass graves -- stacked on top of each other four deep and three across in a 10-by-8-foot plot.

On Tuesday, a new plan was announced to put the images in the past for good.

"It looks overwhelming until you get a bunch of people that are willing to say, 'Yeah, we're going to take care of this problem,' and that's what happened here," said David Techner, of Ira Kaufman Chapel.

No longer will the unclaimed bodies go into flimsy pauper's caskets. Actual coffins are being purchased with the help of a $60,000 donation from the Jewish Fund.

"The Jewish Fund has been able to set an example of: If we all work together, good things can happen," said Techner.

A number of local funeral homes are donating time, services and land -- at no cost -- to ensure bodies will be buried side-by-side and no longer stacked on top of one another for eternity. When the 200 bodies in the morgue are gone, a plan is in place to make sure this is never played out again.

"How could this get so far out of hand where it wasn't considered a crisis? And nobody was doing anything until Kevin Dietz reported it," said Techner.

There will be a public service at which families will be encouraged to go and say their goodbyes.

All of the bodies are expected to be buried over the next 30 days.