Cook Co. to begin posting photos of unclaimed bodies online - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

Cook Co. to begin posting photos of unclaimed bodies online

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

For the first time, the Cook County medical examiner's office has posted photos of unclaimed bodies on their website in an effort to help identify them.

The program is generating some controversy because of the graphic images, but for the sake of people missing loved ones, this is a decision where the medical examiner believes the ends justify the means.

The site contains information about when the bodies were found and where, along with as much identifying information as possible—including, in some cases--photos of the victim's face.

"We're hoping that that photo can trigger somebody's memory, that you know, that person grew up down the street from me, or that person used to live nearby and I know where their mom is," Cook County Medical Examiner Dr. Steve Cina says.

If there are other identifying images, as in tattoos, those are also posted. The images are also linked to NAMUS, a national unidentified persons database. That connection recently resulted in a Michigan family identifying their missing daughter.

Cina knows the images are graphic, but he makes no apologies. He did take some safeguards, though, making sure a warning page pops up before people see the pictures.

"For the some discomfort that it may show, that people may feel looking at some of the images, it's worth it to reunite some families," Dr. Cina says.

Regina O'Neal was at the morgue with a friend waiting to view a body. She struggled with the idea of the graphic photos being available for anyone to view, but she supported the program nevertheless.

"There are so many individuals out here who are missing, so maybe this will give us an opportunity to locate them," O'Neal says.

Cina concedes this still may not provide people closure.

"Maybe we've just given that family a chance to end a statement with a period, instead of a question mark," Cina says. "You know maybe that's the best we can do it at our end of the business."

Dr. Cina says he is encouraged by the one success story his office has already seen and is hoping it will lead to more.

There is also a second section on the website with the names of people who have died, but whose bodies have not been claimed because the office could not find any next of kin.

For more information, visit the Cook County Medical Examiners Office site.

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