I was perusing one of the numerous Simpsons reruns last night. It was the one where Side Show Bob fakes his own death. (Actually that probably refers to several episodes involving Side Show Bob.) But in this one Bart ends up in a coffin about to be cremated when the Simpson family bursts in and Homer picks up a cardboard box marked unclaimed ashes and throws a handful in Bob’s face while yelling Eat hobo ash! Needles to say I found this highly amusing. I’d show you the clip but it doesn’t seem to be online. So I will placate you with this equally amusing classic Simpsons hobo scene:
But that hobo ash thing got me thinking. What happens to all the hobos and crackheads and John and Jane Does that wind up unclaimed at the morgue? They can’t keep them in the lost and found forever.
And cremation would seem the most logical solution. It would make them easier to store and/or dispose of. Hey maybe they sell it off as like a souvenir. The L.A. County Coroner’s Office sells all kinds of souvenir crap.
Or they could sell bags of it for your garden.
Actually that seems a little morbid, even for a Coroner’s Office with a gift shop. Probably better to sell it off to a big corporation for some shady purpose. It could be what’s fleshing out Chicken McNuggets. Do you know how they make those things?
Let's just say you’d rather have a tour of the morgue than the McNugget Factory.
But seriously what does happen to all the unclaimed bodies at the morgue? Let’s ask the Magic Internet and put my mind at ease.
Question 42: What happens to unclaimed bodies at the morgue?
Magic Internet Answer: You humans are always asking question about death. In my days of endless Googling I can tell you that there are much stranger and more fearsome questions to be asked about you human’s lives. But it is a valid question and one of your less stupid so I will answer it. A body only winds up at a coroner’s office if the death is deemed to be violent or suspicious or the body is unclaimed. Unclaimed bodies are categorized in to three types: unidentified corpses, identified corpses unclaimed by family members or identified corpses whose family cannot be reached. In the cases of the later 2 there can be many different reasons why the body remains unclaimed. The deceased may have been someone that moved around a lot with no fixed address. They may be an immigrant with no family nearby or their family may not wish to incur the cost and responsibility that comes with claiming the body. In these situations the coroner’s office will do its best to return the body to the family.
Attn dead guy: If your last request involves something like this. Good luck getting claimed.
They will usually keep the body for about 30 days but it could be as little as a week depending on the office and the space available. When the allotted time is up the body is scanned, dental x-rays are taken as well as DNA samples for a record and then the body is removed for a low cost burial or cremation. The samples taken can be filed indefinitely in the hopes that the body can be identified at a later date. The Ontario Provincial Police have even released some of this information onto a website for the public to view in hopes they can help. But if an unidentified body is part of an ongoing or open investigation it could remain at the morgue for a very long time. Bodies are normally kept at a temperature of 4C but if the body is to be kept longer it will be kept at much colder -20C. In fact the Toronto coroner’s office has the body of a female murder victim found 35 years ago still in its freezer.
But maybe it’s better to be safe than sorry. One week seems a little premature. They could just be hibernating.
Insert 2nd Canadian winter joke here.
Just as long as they make sure they’re actually dead. Hell Bernie Lomax was dead for a week and nobody noticed. So it could work in reverse. They could be a Hard Man Fe Dead. Right Prince Buster?