Lives lost but not forgotten – 2023 Indigent Remains Ceremony 

Every few years, the King County Medical Examiner’s Office (KCMEO) hosts a unique memorial to ensure that every King County resident is remembered. The KCMEO’s Indigent Remains Program provides burial for King County residents who have died without resources or family to claim their remains for a proper burial. This program serves people whose families either could not be located or could not provide for the proper disposition of remains. 

“For reasons unknown, these individuals have died and come into our care without family to bury them. They will not pass from life forgotten, without dignity,” explained James Sosik, Jr., Lead Investigator for KCMEO and runs the Indigent Remains Program. 

The next ceremony to remember these individuals will take place on Wednesday, October 25, at 1:00 p.m. at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Renton (100 Blaine Ave NE). It’s open to any member of the public who wishes to pay their respects. 

Answers to common questions about the program: 

  • How long has King County provided this service and how does it work? 

The first ceremony took place in 1993, and they are held on an as-needed basis. When someone dies but lacks the necessary means for burial, the KCMEO Indigent Remains Program looks after their remains. 

The KCMEO exhausts all efforts to identify family members who may be able to take the remains, but when no one can be found who can do this, the remains are cremated and buried. In some cases, the KCMEO is able to find family, but the family can’t always bear the cost of burial services. 

  • What does the ceremony involve? 

Clergy from several denominations are invited to read the names of each individual decedent. The Indigent Remains Program also works with local organizations and agencies to reach out to people in the community who may have known the person to invite them to the ceremony. Each burial is marked with a stone plate, which includes the date and an inscription. 

  • How are the remains buried? 

All remains are cremated, placed in individual containers, and buried in the same area of the cemetery. Each individual’s remains are separated and identifiable by a unique number inside the tomb. A 3-D map is used for reference. 

  • What do we know about the people being buried? 

The names of the decedents who are part of the 2023 ceremony can be found online. Some were people living homeless at the time of death, while others had housing but did not have funds or family to cover a proper burial. 

Originally published 9/25/2023