CHICAGO — The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office began posting photos of dead bodies online Wednesday in an effort to identify unclaimed remains at the morgue.
The office launched its revamped website on Wednesday. The photos, which come with a disclaimer warning viewers of their potentially disturbing and gruesome nature, are meant to help families identify their loved ones, the medical examiner's office said.
“The enhanced website, along with the upgrade of the office’s electronic data management system, is part of our ongoing initiative to modernize the Medical Examiner’s office and improve its efficiency and operation,” Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said in a statement. “For relatives attempting to track down a family member who has disappeared, this new site will be invaluable. It is a useful tool when all other means to identify these remains have failed. Ultimately, if even one unidentified person is reunited with their family for final burial, it is worth all the efforts of our team.”
The morgue already posted photos of bodies to national missing persons website NamUs, which recently helped officials identify a woman. But people don't always think to check the national database, medical examiner's office spokeswoman Mary Paleologos said.
The website also explains how to obtain records and reports from the medical examiner's office, information for funeral directors and answers to frequently asked questions.
Currently, nine unidentified people are listed, and three have photos. The list also includes the date and location where the body was found, a case number and a description that includes identifiers such as tattoos or hair color.
There's also list of those bodies who have been identified, but have gone unclaimed by family or friends.
“While some of the images are graphic, they may allow a family member across the country or around the world to identify a missing loved one,” Chief Medical Examiner Stephen Cina said.