Funeral directors voice concern with ongoing issues at Wayne County Morgue

Mistakes include decomposing bodies, paperwork issues and more

The Wayne County Morgue medical examiner was called in to answer questions after the Local 4 Defenders exposed months of mistakes in the morgue.

WAYNE COUNTY, Mich. – The Wayne County Morgue medical examiner was called in to answer questions after the Local 4 Defenders exposed months of mistakes in the morgue.

Some of those mistakes include decomposing bodies, months for families to find their loved ones, and a mess of paperwork issues.

The point of the meeting with the Wayne County Health and Human Service Committee was to see what changes the morgue has made since they met three months ago and Local 4 exposed all the problems.

It turned into some funeral home directors coming forward with how they are treated when they deal with the Wayne County Morgue.


Mistakes in the Morgue: Click here for complete coverage


“They just don’t answer the phone and when they do answer it there are specific investigators who are just nasty, just rude,” funeral home director S. Kemp said.

Kemp said other directors have been afraid to speak up for fear of retribution from the morgue when they simply just need their questions answered no one helps.

“Just giving us just information, time of death, who is signing, where do I go, what phone number,” Kemp said.

Funeral directors said they have to chase down morgue officials to get cremation permits.

“We don’t have the same issues in Oakland County, Macomb, Washtenaw, we are able to get cremation permits back relatively quickly,” funeral home director Kellee Miller said.

The point of Tuesday’s (Feb. 8) meeting was to see what progress has been made in terms of fixing issues. The University of Michigan Health System currently runs the Wayne County Morgue. It told the board they’ve created a new position of ID coordinator, built a web-based portal to get the public to help in identifying missing persons, and repaired a backup generator.

There is an audit of the morgue going on currently and that report should be completed soon as the county will be deciding if it will sign another multi-million dollar contract with the Michigan Health System.


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About the Authors:

Karen Drew is the anchor of Local 4 News First at 4, weekdays at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. She is also an award-winning investigative reporter and part of the Local 4 Defenders team.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.