Widow unable to receive husband’s pension because Wayne County Morgue has not sent death certificate

Funeral home employees also report issues

A veteran is unable to receive her late husband’s pension because she has not received his death certificate from the Wayne County Morgue. He died seven months ago. This is just one item on a long list of issues connected to the Wayne County Morgue.

WAYNE COUNTY, Mich. – A veteran is unable to receive her late husband’s pension because she has not received his death certificate from the Wayne County Morgue. He died seven months ago.

This is just one item on a long list of issues connected to the Wayne County Morgue.

“He was fun-loving. We’re both veterans of the U.S. Army,” Celia Crawford said. “He loved to travel and he just loved taking care of the kids.”

Crawford’s husband, Norm, died in January. She had to deal with his death while also struggling to get his death certificate from the Wayne County Morgue. Since she doesn’t have her husband’s death certificate, she can’t get his pension.

“I kept checking and checking. No death certificate, no death certificate,” Crawford said.

“It’s very frustrating because I’m behind on my DTE bill. I’m trying to call them, they don’t want to understand what’s going on,” she said.

Celia Crawford and her husband. (WDIV)

Funeral directors continue to report issues with morgue

Local 4 Investigators have been reporting on morgue mistakes, and delays in processing paperwork and bodies for the past year. After our first interview with medical examiner Dr. Carl Schmidt, he won’t talk to Local 4 anymore on camera.

“I mean, if they stand around being lazy, they need to get off their butts and hire people so they can get this work done ‘cause this doesn’t make any sense,” Crawford said.

She isn’t the only one complaining. Funeral directors have spoken out about issues they’ve faced when dealing with the Wayne County Morgue. LaShonda Martin is the funeral home director at Kemp Funeral Home.

“The time it takes to get a cremation permit back is still that two to three-day delay from when we put the request in initially,” Martin said.

Kemp Funeral Homes in Southfield is frustrated because delays at the morgue cause more heartache for the families they serve.

“We’re waiting on cremation permits to come back before we can complete services for our families,” Martin said.

A spokesperson from the morgue said, “The county strives to provide compassionate, prompt and timely services to families . . . Sometimes a delay can occur in processing a cremation permit/death certificate at the medical examiner’s office due to circumstances surrounding the death.”

“I just need some help, that’s all I’m asking for help. I’m not trying to beg nobody because I don’t want to owe nobody. I just need som help in finding out what in the hell is going on, that’s all I need,” Crawford said.


Read: Mistakes in the Morgue coverage


Have a case you’d like us to look into? Reach the Local 4 investigative team at 313-962-9348, or email Karen Drew at kdrew@wdiv.com.



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.