News 12 at 6 o'clock / Friday, Aug. 31, 2012
RICHMOND COUNTY, Ga. -- No one has come forward to claim the body of an Augusta man after he passed away 10 days ago.
Edward Winter was 63 years old when he passed away last week. The coroner says he died of natural causes.
Coroner Grover Tuten says a family member contacted him about Winter's death but then was unreachable.
"He left me a phone number and the phone number he left was no good," Tuten said.
Tuten says unclaimed bodies are becoming a growing problem in Richmond County.
"I'd blame it on the economy," Tuten said.
According to Tuten, taxpayers spend $30,000 a year to dispose of unclaimed bodies in Richmond County. He says the law requires the legal next of kin to claim the body.
The coroner says he is forced to make difficult decisions when a family doesn't come forward.
"I've already checked with a couple of schools to see if they want him," Tuten said about Winter's body.
The coroner donates some bodies to medical schools and body farms. Some are disposed of at Westview Cemetery in the pauper's section.
Westview Cemetery opened in 2004. The coroner planned on it serving the community for 30 years but now he predicts it will be full after just 15.
"If they can't afford to bury him, come forward and at least say so," Tuten said.
Anyone that is a related to Winter can contact the Richmond County Coroner at (706) 821-2382.