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1,464 Unclaimed, Cremated Bodies Buried In Mass Grave

Evergreen Memorial Park in Boyle Heights. Photo by Nick Dunlevy via the LAist Featured Photos pool.
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Thousands of remains that were at both the L.A. County Coroner's Office and the county morgue for up to a year were buried in a mass grave today during an annual event that highlights the depressingly high number of bodies that lay unclaimed each year.

The cremated remains of 1,464 were finally laid to rest at the Los Angeles Crematorium Cemetery, which lies in a corner of Evergreen Memorial Park in Boyle Heights. Despite the steep number, the number of remains actually dropped from last year, when 1,656 people were laid to rest, according to the L.A. Times.

Rev. Chris Ponnet, a chaplain with the County-USC Medical Center, led the service for the sixth year in a row.

"Ideally, we wouldn’t have to have unnamed burials," Ponnet told the L.A. Times. "The county does the diligent search and some people we find and some people say they can’t afford [a burial] or they’re disconnected from them."

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Two-thirds of the bodies came from the county morgue and most of the remaining third came from the coroner, the L.A. Times reports. The reasons for the bodies being unclaimed vary, but most of them were homeless or penniless.

"These are individuals that, for one reason or another, have no one but the County to provide them with a respectful and dignified burial," Board of Supervisors chairman Don Knabe said yesterday. "Some are homeless. Many are poor. Some have no families to grieve for them. Regardless of what their status in life was, each one of them mattered. We take the opportunity [Wednesday] to honor their lives."

Ed. note: This post has been updated to clarify where the unclaimed bodies were stored. An earlier version of this post erroneously reported that all of the bodies came from the coroner, when in fact they are from both the county morgue and the coroner.

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