#Louisiana coroners tasked with unclaimed bodies

BY HEIDI R. KINCHEN

Florida Parishes bureau

May 05, 2013

On an unseasonably cold and gray April morning, on a mound of green grass and white clover beneath the outstretched branches of an oak, the ashes of three Baton Rouge residents were scattered upon the earth.

“As we return to the earth and sea from whence we came, divine creator of all in heaven and on Earth, we bring before you these last earthly remains, returned to you to do with as you will and to set free for all eternity,” East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Beau Clark said in prayer before the ashes were spread at the city’s historic Magnolia Cemetery on Florida Boulevard.

The three were among 14 unclaimed bodies entrusted to the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner’s Office for disposition so far this year, Clark said. The Coroner’s Office had 77 such cases in 2012.

Some were “true paupers” in the sense that neither they nor their next of kin could afford the cost of burial or cremation, Clark said. Others simply went unclaimed by relatives and were left to the Coroner’s Office for disposition in accordance with state law.

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