Corpses are stacking up in morgues across the country, the remains of the indigent and those whose families can’t afford the average funeral cost of $7,000 or the lesser average cremation charge of $2,000.
Bodies are piling up because the government is running out of money to bury them, CNN Money reports: State and county budgets for interring indigent and unclaimed bodies have been zapped by the economy.
In addition, by law, bodies cannot be disposed of until they are identified, and many people just aren’t claiming their deceased relatives. They just can’t afford it.
Albert Samuels, chief investigator for Detroit’s Wayne County morgue says he has never seen anything like it during his 13 years on the job.
"Some people don't come forward even though they know the people are here," Samuels says. "They don't have the money."
The number of unclaimed corpses at the Wayne County morgue is at a record high, having tripled since 2000.
Unemployment in the area is approaching 28 percent and the county's $21,000 annual budget to bury unclaimed bodies ran out in June.
Other cities are experiencing the same problem. For example, the Los Angeles coroner's office has seen an increase in the number of bodies abandoned.
In contrast, The Boston Globe reports that the city of Boston spent $431,000 on overtime costs to deploy 629 police officers, 48 firefighters, and a raft of other workers for the funeral of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, according to information released under a public records request.
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