Widow finally gets husband’s death certificate after months of waiting on Wayne County Morgue

Funeral home employees also report issues

Celia Crawford and her husband. (WDIV)

WAYNE COUNTY, Mich. – A woman has finally received her husband’s death certificate after waiting on the Wayne County Morgue for months, she said.

Celia Crawford reached out to Local 4 because she couldn’t get her husband’s pension, even though he died seven months ago. Her story aired Wednesday (June 6), and two days later, the issue was finally resolved.

But for several months, this was just the latest item on a long list of problems connected to the Wayne County Morgue.

“He was fun-loving. We’re both veterans of the U.S. Army,” 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 didn’t have his death certificate, she couldn’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.”

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.”

A woman has finally received her husband’s death certificate after waiting on the Wayne County Morgue for months, she 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.

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.