A final rest: coroner’s office finding home for the unclaimed dead

Nearly a hundred sets of cremains are unclaimed

Mythology offers myriad guesses as to the final resting place of the human soul, from a ride with the ferryman to reincarnation to oblivion, but for the merely mortal remains, the options are generally much more straightforward.

In most cases, those arrangements are made by family, hopefully seeing to it that the deceased’s wishes are respected tastefully. But what happens when someone dies and no one is there to claim them?

“We have almost 80 cremains. They’re unclaimed. It could be like, the person doesn’t have any family left. Or for whatever reason, the family didn’t want to claim them,” said Grays Harbor County Coroner George Kelley. “A lot of them were indigent persons. Some of them have been here for many years.”

Kelley and the coroner’s office are working to find a final resting spot for those unclaimed dead.

“They’ve been in our care. We feel it’s time to put them to rest,” Kelley said. “We do want to inter them. We also want to make it accessible so if a family member does find someone years down the road they’ll be able to claim that.”

Remains come to the coroner’s office in a variety of ways, said Ryan Meister, deputy coroner, from being handed off by a funeral home to being discovered in a storage unit.

“Some of these were turned over from the funeral home,” Meister said. “They were paid for the family and just … left.”

The members of the coroner’s office have expended significant effort in locating surviving family for the cremains in their care, Kelley said.

“We’ve researched as much as we could. A lot of internet searching, ancestry websites, cemetery websites. We have some other electronic resources we can look up family members,” Kelley said. “We had a lot more. We probably reunited at least 10. We had some where we got in touch with family members and they weren’t even aware. They’d just lost contact.”

But the office has exhausted its options for trying to find anyone to reunite their remains with, Kelley said. Those who remain cover the gamut of the human experience, with the only common point that the thread of their life terminated here in Grays Harbor.

“It covers the entire map,” Kelley said. “Everyone’s an adult that was unclaimed. From all walks of life. Race, creed, color.”

Kelley said the members of the office mulled options from at-sea burials to the cemeteries and columbarium of the county.

“I don’t know which each individual person’s wishes were. There’s some places that will take them and release them to the sea, or to beaches or waterfalls,” Kelley said. “We do want to inter them.”

Kelley said he’s looked at the graveyards at the county, but hasn’t made a final decision.

“We have a few cemeteries in Grays Harbor. That’s where we’re kind of at. It’ll either be in a burial or a vault,” Kelley said. “I would love to have it all put together and send them off by the end of July.”

The office has released the list of unclaimed dead. Kelley urged anyone who recognized a name on the list and wished to claim it to contact the coroner’s office at 360-532-3015.

Unclaimed Remains

Ruth Howell 12/15/2003

Richard Hoover 2/23/2008

Eddie Lawrence 8/14/2008

Jose Miranda 10/4/2009

Larry Krause 10/27/2010

Ruby Elaine White 10/5/2011

Jeffrey Allen Wenrick 10/19/2013

Richard Locke 11/18/2013

Donald Sisk 4/3/2014

Cheryl Wright 7/30/2014

Charles Loftin 9/17/2014

Becky Jennings 2/25/2015

James Harvie 6/11/2015

Betty Louise Murray 5/23/2016

Nancy Casten 9/24/2016

Stacey Baldwin 10/25/2016

Robert Vance 1/24/2017

Jeffrey Graham 5/5/2017

Steven Thomas 6/7/2017

Terry Carnes 11/18/2017

Jerry Ann Detering 12/10/2017

Esquiel Maldonado 1/16/2018

Martin Writer 4/9/2018

Michael Anderson 4/22/2018

Jimmy Ray Farnsworth 6/16/2018

Donna Johnson 6/24/2018

Ricky Lee Powers 7/5/2018

Michael William Ellsworth 10/1/2018

Douglas Conn 10/28/2018

William Arthur Caffall 12/2/2018

Linda Farral 1/8/2019

Daniel Elliott 1/20/2019

Tom Replogle 4/13/2019

Frank Thomas Durkee 4/27/2019

Dennis Burnell Lenss 5/16/2019

Roland James York 6/9/2019

Harmon Timmons 6/13/2019

Wendy Marie Taylor 6/14/2019

Linda Hougham 6/17/2019

Jennie Lou Martinez 8/18/2019

Robert Ray Bednarski 8/22/2019

Kim Maria Herndon 9/29/2019

Gordon Mickiewicz 9/30/2019

Decca Rae Serquinia 11/17/2019

Larry Bynum 1/4/2020

William Harrold 1/12/2020

Earl Albert Dalton 2/10/2020

Alvie Dean Bisher 2/18/2020

James Michael Wallenbeck 2/18/2020

Raymond Darrell Moore 3/21/2020

William Teachout 7/21/2020

Karen Densmore 10/14/2020

Karl Fyles 1/4/2021

Robert Smith 1/30/2021

Donald Robert Edwards 3/12/2021

Siannon Birch 5/9/2021

Steven Hansen 6/5/2021

Marvin Hance 6/28/2021

Mark Joseph Smith 7/16/2021

Rodney Edwin Helm 8/6/2021

Charles Briggs 9/26/2021

Josephine Abbie 10/10/2021

Linda Bishop 11/29/2021

Aaron Inglott 1/25/2022

Ronald Ramsaur 2/7/2022

James Scott Tumbleson 3/6/2022

Margorie Greggor 3/15/2022

John Michael Harris 3/16/2022

Nancy Lang 4/9/2022

Andrew Loubal 6/22/2022

Ronald Ray Smith 7/28/2022

Randy Rodriquez 12/3/2022

Clyde Spikes 1/20/2023

Lola Wilhite 1/28/2023

Carol Brevard 2/2/2023

Danilo Cambronero 3/6/2023

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