Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Say A Prayer And Check The List - The Mass Grave of Los Angeles

Los Angeles, CA

Today, 1,656 people will be buried in the Potter's Field at the Evergreen Cemetery in Boyle Heights. They've been sitting in morgue drawers and then as collections of ashes for the last couple of years. These are the unclaimed, the unknown. These are the people who have come to the L.A. County Coroner's office and never left. They are the homeless, the homicides, the suicides, the people who have no next of kin. They are old men found in alleys and babies in dumpsters. They are drifters and locals. Common men and women who have no families, or none who are willing to speak up for them.

As such they don't get a grave to call their own, many don't even have names. Just a hole in the ground with the ashes of their morgue-mates.

This happens every December. After lingering in the morgue for two to three years hoping for identification, the bodies are cremated and, with as much respect as is possible, placed into a single grave.

The number goes up and down but it hovers around 1,600 to 1,700 people every year. The books get closed and the only thing that remains of the people they once were is a case number and maybe a photo in the County Unidentified Person's List.

If you know, or know of, someone who has gone missing in Los Angeles County, check that list. They have records going back to 1907. People disappear here all the time. Harrowing, yes. But sometimes it's better to know than not.


Anonymous said...

Wow. That's a lot of people.

Fred Zackel said...

Lovely writing. Thank you.