NEAR WEST SIDE — Starting Wednesday, the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office will post photos of dead bodies online in an effort to identify unclaimed remains at the morgue.
“It’ll make it easier for families to identify a missing loved one,” Chief Medical Examiner Stephen Cina said.
The revamped medical examiner's website will feature photos and other identifying details such as height, clothing or tattoos, for those who have died in Cook County and remain unidentified, said Mary Paleologos, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office.
Cina said his office already posts that information on NamUs, a national missing persons database, and recently reunited the unclaimed remains of a woman with her family.
The woman had been unidentified for a year, Cina said. Out of respect for the family’s privacy, her name will not be released.
The problem with NamUs, Paleologos said, is that many people never think to look at national databases.
“When they’re searching for a loved one, they usually go to the [nearest] big city,” Paleologos said.
Revamping the Cook County website can help those families, Paleologos said.
“When we started out with this whole process, we realized it was a lot of work,” Cina said. “Even if one [person] makes it back to their family, all the efforts are worth it. We’ve already got the one. We hope there’s a lot more to follow.”
Paleologos said the morgue still has about 20 unidentified bodies.