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Unclaimed remains on the rise in DC area

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A growing number of DC families are not showing up to claim the dead bodies of their loved ones, according to documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the News4 I-Team.

D.C. medical examiners report spikes in the number of “unclaimed remains” being handled by their office. It seems families, due to unforeseen financial circumstances, are increasingly unable to afford the costs of burial. Without financial resources, people are forgoing picking up remains from the local medical examiner.

The metro DC region has been hit hard financially. Due to Federal budget cutbacks, the summer Sequester and furloughs in the fall, many in the area have seen their paychecks sliced and diced numerous times. Many are finding it hard to make ends meet.

The District's “unclaimed” remains jumped from 62 cases in 2010 to 97 cases in 2011 and are continuing to rise. Taxpayers are ultimately paying for the handling of those remains.

A rise in the homeless population, reported by homeless advocacy groups throughout the D.C. region, has also triggered the jump in unidentified remains at local health departments. The homeless rarely carry identification and so it becomes difficult for authorities to contact their families.



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