On Wednesday, March 6, 2013, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced that the Medical Examiner’s Office has launched an improved and expanded website that will include a link to unidentified remains aimed at helping family members find a missing loved one.
The website also explains how to obtain records and reports from the ME’s office, provides information for funeral directors, directions to the facility and answers frequently asked questions. For the first time, the expanded site will contain information on people who have died in Cook County and are unidentified.
“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,” President Preckwinkle said. “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.”
Prior to the launch of its enhanced site, the Medical Examiner’s Office was able to find the family of an unidentified woman by entering her on the National Missing and Unidentifed Persons website, a free online system that contains information on unidentified people from across the country who have died.
“Unfortunately, many people don’t know about the NamUs website,” Cook County Medical Examiner Dr. Stephen Cina said. “Relatives often think to check the websites of large cities if they are attempting to track down a family member who has disappeared. That’s why it’s important for Cook County to provide site for families to access.”
Because the subject matter on the expanded Cook County website is sensitive, a disclaimer cautions viewers about the graphic nature of the site, and images cannot be copied.
“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,” Dr. Cina said.
The website will also feature a page listing identified remains that have not been claimed for final disposition. This list, without photos, will be updated biweekly.
Cook County officials hope family members who have lost contact with a loved one will check its list to see if that person is at the Medical Examiner’s office. Publication of this list will facilitate reunification of the deceased with their family members and will avoid burial at public expense.