In September, a family reached out to Local 4 and said their loved one had been at the morgue for months and was cremated -- even after the morgue told them her remains weren’t there. After that first report, other families started coming forward.
Officials from Michigan Medicine, who run the Wayne County Morgue, as well as the Medical Examiner Dr. Carl Schmidt, spent more than an hour in front of the Health and Human Services board. Mistakes were admitted and a plan for change was announced.
“I want to do everything we can so we don’t see a repeat of this,” Wayne County Commissioner Glenn Anderson said.
Many on the board felt that way.
“There is a sense of outrage. You must understand we should never have to go back. This is unacceptable,” Wayne County Commissioner Jonathan Kinloch said.
The Local 4 Defenders exposed cases involving bodies that were left in the morgue for months without notifying families -- and other bodies decomposing.
The Local 4 Defenders were able to obtain the last inspection of the Wayne County Morgue from 2016, where two autopsy physicians were cited for performing more than 325 autopsies a year. Three other physicians performed more than 250, which was a violation, saying it impacts the quality of an autopsy.
The facility was also cited because only four of the 13 death investigators are registered. At least seven of them are required to be. There was also no sufficient staff to cover the caseload for forensic photography.
Michigan Medicine announced major changes that include the hiring of a new death scene investigator, and a more in-depth audit will be performed. There is also a plan to create a web-based port for families to help them search for loved ones at the morgue.