DETROIT – Wayne County commissioners are demanding answers after 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.
ID on the body stated it was Natassia L. Smith. An autopsy was performed and the cause of death was an accidental drug overdose. Her body sat in the Wayne County morgue for seven months.
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.
County commissioners have said they will be holding meetings to try and find out what happened and to see if there have been similar incidents.
“I want to give my sincerest condolences to the mother and the family. I’m going to really look into seeing what happened,” said County Commission Chair Alisha Bell. “What I would like to hear from the medical examiner is just what the procedures are in place and if we need to tighten them up.”
Commissioner Ray Basham wants to know if there are other similar cases.
“If that was my daughter, I would be livid,” Basham said. “We need to learn and grow from a bad experience that was horrific for a family. But it doesn’t bode well for the Wayne County morgue.”
There is also the question of tattoos. The family told Local 4 that they described Meadows’ tattoos when they called the morgue. The autopsy report in the case shows that there was an extensive list of tattoos that were present on the body. There is no database set up to match tattoos with bodies at the morgue.
“I don’t know of any database manager that captures tattoos in a separate database field that is served,” said County Medical Examiner, Dr. Carl Schmidt. “That’s up to the computer people to do but it would add another complication and it would be another data entry.”
While the morgue defends its actions, county leaders are saying that officials need to take a closer look at what happened to Meadows.
An audit of the morgue is underway. County commissioners will be meeting in a couple of weeks with the division that oversees the morgue to seek answers in this case.