Wednesday’s ceremony was held at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Renton. Investigators believe 18 of the people were homeless.
People huddled under tents and umbrellas on a rain-soaked afternoon as the remains of 182 people were laid to rest at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Renton on Wednesday.
“You’re praying for those that either have not had someone to pray for them, or their families have not been able to provide for their burial,” said Father Jim Johnson, pastor of St. Jude Catholic Church in Redmond, one of the faith leaders performing the ceremony.
James Sosik, lead investigator for the King County Medical Examiner’s Office, has been in charge of the indigent-remains program for the last five years. He describes the process of finding and notifying family members as a series of emotional ups and downs, between happy and frustrated.
His team of 10 people from the office looks for family ties before the individuals’ remains are included in this group. Cremated remains are kept separate in the common plot, and coded with numbers so they can be removed if family is found.
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Most of the remains were processed by the Medical Examiner’s Office, but every now and then, a funeral home calls with unclaimed cremated remains, which examiners take as well.
Of the people honored in the ceremony, their dates of death go back to 2009, according to Sosik. The Medical Examiner’s Office believes that 18 of the people were homeless.
Kari Wilhite, a resident of Bonney Lake, heard about the ceremony on the radio, and although she lives in Pierce County, was moved to attend to pay her respects. “I felt my heart beat a little different,” she said. “It was moving and humbling.”
To read the full list of names and more about the program, visit kingcounty.gov/depts/health/examiner/indigent-remains.aspx