WAYNE COUNTY, Mich. – Just more than a week after a Local 4 Defenders investigation exposed problems at the Wayne County Morgue, the medical examiner was brought in before a Michigan Department of Health and Human Services board.
The body of a woman believed to be missing sat in the morgue for seven months before being cremated without the family’s knowledge. Natassia Meadows’ family last saw her on Oct. 13, 2019. Days passed and her family began to worry when they didn’t hear from her. On Oct. 17, 2019, the body of the 31-year-old was found inside a home on Appoline Street in Detroit.
Identification on the body stated it was Natassia L. Smith. An autopsy was performed and the cause of death was an accidental drug overdose. Meadows was officially listed as a missing person. Romulus police said they called the morgue but received no answers about the missing mother. Meadows’ family also said they contacted the morgue and provided several different names that Meadows was known to use. They also explained what her three tattoos looked like.
Her family said the morgue told them her body was not there. Her body was cremated in May 2020. Wayne County Medical Examiner Dr. Carl Schmidt blamed a spelling error by the family -- but the family said the morgue didn’t put any care or attention on their case.
“I understand our roles become mundane. The Medical Examiner’s Office meets our city’s most vulnerable at a sensitive time and I would only appreciate there is more of an effort to try an formulate policy and protocol to bring a sense of closure to these families,” Commissioner Jonathan Kinloch said.
The last audit of the Medical Examiner’s Office was done in 2003 and found “internal control weaknesses over procedures used to determine the identity of bodies classified as unknown.” It went on to say the Medical Examiner’s Office “does not have any written policies or procedures.”
Schmidt was told to bring a full report of what happened with Natassia’s case to an upcoming meeting next month.