WAYNE COUNTY, Mich. – A Metro Detroit family didn't know their loved one was dead for more than a month after his body was identified at the morgue at the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office.
Officials with the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office said investigators work hard to identify bodies that come in. They also work hard to notify loved ones when a body is identified, and they take the job personally.
Investigators don't want families to suffer not knowing that their loved one has died.
In the case of Patrick Steinhebel, his family has been suffering for more than a month since he died of a drug overdose. They never knew he was found dead.
"Come to find out, he had been sitting in the Medical Examiner's Office in the freezer for, at that time, it was probably about a good month," Steinhebel's wife, Robin, said.
She said her husband was a father of four and an addict. He took off July 4, and by July 5, he was dead and in the morgue.
"No human deserves to be just sitting there, and their family not know where they are," Robin Steinhebel said.
Patrick Steinhebel's parents were desperate to find him. Last week, they filed a missing person's report in Sterling Heights, and right away, his name came up at the Wayne County morgue.
The morgue had Patrick Steinhebel's name, but he had listed himself as next of kin, so there was nobody for the morgue to call.
Patrick Steinhebel's wife thinks more could have been done. She said the morgue could have made an extra call to let the family know what happened to their loved one.
"In the hospital, he was single and his emergency contact was himself," Robin Steinhebel said. "I get that, but from my point of view, that's a human. You can't take an extra step and try to locate a family?"
You can watch Shawn Ley's full story in the video posted above.