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Cook County to cremate bodies left unclaimed at morgue

Friday, February 14, 2014
Chicago Sun-Times
by Michael Sneed

For the first time in Cook County, the bodies of the indigent, once buried in anonymous graves, will be cremated by the medical examiner’s office.

? Translation: It heralds the end of the infamous potter’s field, a term once used for the graveyards of bodies of the unknown and poor.

“The cremations of bodies of the unclaimed and disclaimed by kin will begin in the next few weeks,” said Kristen Mack, a spokesman for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

“The Cook County Board approved the practice last year to save money, now that the stigma once attached to cremation doesn’t exist anymore,” Mack told Sneed.

“Right now it costs the county $480 to bury each body in unmarked graves,” she said. “Cremation, which will take place at a facility in Northlake, will cost $150.”

“Cremation is becoming a national standard for medical examiner offices across the country, including such large metropolitan areas as Los Angeles, Calif., Miami, Fla., and Baltimore, Md.,” she said.



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