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Kane County coroner wants to give 
unclaimed cremains proper home

Kane County Coroner Rob Russell shows boxes of unclaimed cremated remains Thursday in the storage space used by the coroner’s office in Geneva.
Kane County Coroner Rob Russell shows boxes of unclaimed cremated remains Thursday in the storage space used by the coroner’s office in Geneva.

GENEVA – Kane County Coroner Rob Russell said he couldn’t believe what he found when he walked into Building F of the Kane County Government Center, which his office uses for storage.

Nearly 50 containers of unclaimed cremation remains were stacked on a corner shelf, sharing the same room as furniture, boxes of old files, shovels, typewriters and holiday decorations, including a box labeled as “reaper of souls.”

“The day I walked in here, I could not believe these were human remains next to files,” Russell said Thursday to a small group of reporters.

Although the cremation remains – also called cremains – aren’t a public health risk, he is making it a priority to find a proper resting place for them. He said it’s part of his mission to restore integrity to the office, to which he was elected in November.

“It’s not the right place for them to be,” he said. “We want people to step up and do what’s right, and that’s take care of your family members.”

Only legal next of kin can claim remains, Chief Deputy Coroner Loren Carrera said. People claiming remains must show identification and sign a document.

As much as Russell and Carrera want people to claim their family members’ ashes, they said not everyone wants to. And the coroner’s office has no legal recourse.

“We cannot force anyone to claim their loved one,” Carrera said.

Most of the 47 unclaimed remains are packaged in cardboard boxes – brown, pounds-heavy boxes for the adults and slimmer, light-as-feather white boxes for the seven babies.

While many of the remains are of people nobody claimed from the coroner’s office, others were found elsewhere, such as in a storage compartment and among items donated to the Goodwill in South Elgin. Their dates of death range from 1952 to 2012.

“This one’s from ‘89,” Russell said, gesturing at a box.

Rather than scatter the remains, Russell wants to bury them so family members could later access them, if desired. Clergy also would be involved, Carrera said.

The Kane County Farm Cemetery near the old sheriff’s office is a potential burial site, Russell said. But documentation indicates the last interment there happened in 1953, and he doesn’t know whether such activity still is allowed.

Russell also is seeking input from the County Board because members might know of other sites or come up with a better plan.

“If they have suggestions, I want them,” Russell said.

For information

Nearly 50 unclaimed cremation remains are stored at the Kane County Coroner's Office. Coroner Rob Russell urges the next of kin to claim them. Email him at or call 630-232-3535.

The following are names and date of death (if known) of the unclaimed remains:

• Baby Adams, a boy, Aug. 20, 2006
• Baby Davis, Jan. 13, 2006
• Baby Triston Marquez Euell, Jan. 25, 2002
• Baby Lee, March 23, 2010
• Baby McIntosh, a boy, Oct. 29, 2006
• Baby Joshua Nunn-Burton, May 24, 2003
• Baby Antonio Sherman, also known as "Baby Boy Herring," Nov. 20, 2005
• Pauline Jenette Adams
• Lorraine Barrett, July 23, 2009
• Charles Michael Basile, Aug. 17, 2008
• James A. Caperonis, March 5, 2005
• Unidentified remains in square copper container found at a Goodwill store in South Elgin
• Kenneth Daniel, Sept. 27, 2011
• Terry Degree, July 29, 2007
• Louise Evans, Nov. 26, 2006
• John Gehl, July 30, 2012
• Richard A. Good, Dec. 21, 2003
• Helen Marie Handy, remains found in gold circular container at a Goodwill store in South Elgin, March 31, 1989
• Todd Allen Harshbarger, Jan. 12, 2012
• Robert L. Head, Aug. 31, 2010
• Barbara Hoffman
• Gloria Jackson, April 27, 2006
• Kevin L. Klawes, June 12, 2011
• Russell E. Martin, remains in white Gold Metal Flour container found at a Goodwill store in South Elgin, Nov. 19, 1998
• Richard Martinez, April 13, 2007
• Michael McDaniel, Feb. 19, 2005
• Zsigmond Nagy, Feb. 4, 2009
• William Nehring, June 1, 2009
• Maria L. Pitts, April 21, 2012
• George Poznecki, Feb. 5, 2007
• Margaret Prosser, Dec. 30, 2007
• Georgia J. Purkyt, Aug. 7, 1996
• Lewis Redde
• Juan Reyes, Nov. 23, 2008
• Thomas Rice, May 26, 2007
• Peter Paul Ruiz Jr., Feb. 7, 2012
• Darryl Scott, March 23, 2008
• David Gary Smith, May 12, 2008
• Celia T. Sturm, Nov. 27, 1952
• Derryl Tanner, Jan. 10, 2008
• Edwin C. Taylor, Dec. 17, 2012
• Doris A. Tingle, May 19, 2009
• Laverne Vasco, April 7, 2008
• Dennis Melvin Wead, Feb. 8, 2010
• Shawna Lea Wolf, Jan. 2, 1987
• Matthew Zajak
• Julio Zamora, March 13, 2004

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