In December, 2015, a single grave was dug at Los Angeles County Cemetery to receive the cremated remains of 1,300 persons who had been sitting on a shelf in the medical examiner's office since 2012. Even the most optimistic know that more than likely once they're in the ground forever, they'll remain unclaimed and in many cases unnamed.County officials wait three years between death and burial to give family members a chance to come forward.
In December 2017, over 1,500 people that had been waiting since 2014 will be buried. In 2016, the number of people was 1,430. Los Angeles has been burying the indigent, unknown and unclaimed since 1896.
They died in nursing homes in Long Beach, on the streets of Pomona and in hospitals across the county. Their bodies were sent to the county crematory in Boyle Heights, reduced to ash and deposited in a plastic box. Babies’ remains were placed in small paper bags the size of a folded wallet.
The methods have changed, but L.A. County has been burying its indigent and unclaimed dead for more than 100 years. Since the 1800s, workers have logged each name in large handwritten books. They digitized the list in 2015.
Some died alone without living relatives. Others had lost contact with loved ones. Many families lacked the few hundred dollars needed to reimburse the county for handling and cremating the body.
The dead include babies and teenagers. But most were older than 60.
More than one-third of the bodies were inspected by the coroner. Those cases are deemed suspicious. An attempt to find next of kin is made. An investigation into their life is performed. Ten percent are unnamed and given the surname of "Doe". One percent were ashes abandoned without identification. Their names are simply "Unknown."
Of the John Does from 2015, one was found on the side of the road in Pomona, two were found near homeless encampments, and another reportedly threw himself in front of a Metrolink train. The only Jane Doe was found among trash at a recycling center in Chinatown.
Hundreds of bodies were brought from homes and apartments, hospitals and nursing homes.
Source - LA Times
Stranger Than Fiction Stories by Marlene Pardo Pellicer