Macabre body ID process adds to Joplin's pain
A spray-painted message sums up the helplessness -- and hope -- some feel in Joplin, Missouri, after a tornado hit the city.
May 28th, 2011
12:39 AM ET

Macabre body ID process adds to Joplin's pain

A Newton County, Missouri, official said authorities would begin streamlining the process of identifying bodies Saturday in Joplin in the aftermath of a killer tornado.

"The decision was made that if a person can make a positive ID, let’s say for instance … piercings or tattoos," said Mark Bridges of the Newton County, Missouri, coroner’s office, "[Saturday] we’re gonna start the process of allowing those people to view the bodies of the loved ones."

"We’re going to go ahead and start releasing those bodies," he said.

Already frayed nerves reached a boiling point Friday in Joplin, Missouri, as families trying to retrieve their dead loved ones were stalled by cautious medical examiners meticulously trying to sort remains.

The deadliest tornado ever recorded in the U.S. smashed through the city Sunday, killing 132 people and leaving more than 156 unaccounted for.

While acknowledging families’ frustration, Bridges told CNN’s Eliott Spitzer that they were making “good progress” in identifying bodies.

Bridges said the coroners were trying to avoid a horror that had unfortunately already taken place.

[cnn-video url="http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2011/05/26/exp.arena.joplin.tornado.morgue.cnn"%5D

“The situation that we had early on is we had some family members that made identification on an individual and they got him to a mortuary, got him embalmed, got him dressed and when they went back [to prepare visitation services] it was not their son,” he said. “So the Jasper County Coroner ... clamped it [streamlined identification] down at that time.”

But that was little comfort for residents like Divine Akino, who lost her mother in the twister.

The Kansas City, Missouri, resident said her mother’s body was released Friday morning, one of the first, but only after days of agonizing bureaucratic red tape.

“We just want to claim our dead bodies,” Akino said. “It was a little frustrating because we kept asking them, ‘Where is the help that we’re getting?' " she said, referring to the coroner's office. "Is this where our tax dollars are going?”

Akino said her mother was worshipping at the evening service at Harmony Heights Baptist Church when the tornado tore the walls down.

Drawn to the Bible's message of salvation, Grace Akino was a religious woman, her daughter said.

“She named me Divine because I was the first born. She and my dad met through a missionary in the Philippines,” she said.

Grace Akino's body was found covering her 12-year-son, who survived, Divine Akino said.

A visitation service for Grace Akino drew more than 200 people late Friday, her daughter said.

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Filed under: Joplin • Missouri • Tornadoes • Weather
soundoff (208 Responses)
  1. Mike Weimer

    at "quake" hit Joplin??????

    May 28, 2011 at 1:40 am | Report abuse |
  2. lol

    "quake-hit Joplin" LOL

    May 28, 2011 at 1:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Zack

      Ya, its just hilarious right? Being from the next town over and having to comfort my mother when she calls me every night to tell me she still hadn't found her best friend but she found another couple of dead bodies instead. Just hilarious

      May 28, 2011 at 2:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Erik

      "It" *is* hilarious.... with "it" being the typo. Of course he's not saying the tragic events in Joplin are hilarious.

      This is a supposedly professional news organization, yet they cannot proofread their articles? That is absurd.

      May 28, 2011 at 2:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Zack

      I don't care what you say, it's not funny. I don't care if its about the typo or not. If it was typo in an article about 9/11 would it be funny? How about Katrina, or soldiers dying overseas? Is that still funny? The fact of the matter is over 100 people died in America, many of which I knew personally (including my friends three children), so no, I don't think its funny at all

      May 28, 2011 at 3:10 am | Report abuse |
    • bam

      yes they would be almost as funny but u make this one much more funnier

      May 29, 2011 at 4:09 am | Report abuse |
  3. MM

    That picture caption shows poor choice in words. In my opinion, a sign like that hardly shows the helplessness, but rather the resilience of the people who chose to write it.

    May 28, 2011 at 1:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Kikuhana

      I thought the very same thing. CNN misread it as "God save us"?

      May 28, 2011 at 2:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Agree!

      Agree! It seems the author completely missed the "d" at the end of "save" and also completely missed the smiley face.

      Whoever wrote that sign on the door is thanking God.

      May 28, 2011 at 2:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Thanos

      It's a cynical statement.

      May 28, 2011 at 3:39 am | Report abuse |
  4. Chris

    Quake-hit?? What is this??

    May 28, 2011 at 1:51 am | Report abuse |
  5. mo-native

    this whole article is embarassing for cnn. they need to fact check and proof read before publishing. way to go.

    May 28, 2011 at 2:20 am | Report abuse |
    • seeNN

      You expected better on cnn? In the words of the dialog box I get every time I come to an iReport story: "You're new here, right?"

      May 28, 2011 at 3:50 am | Report abuse |
  6. Kim E

    Quake hit Joplin??????? Come on now........!!

    May 28, 2011 at 2:29 am | Report abuse |
  7. tracey widger

    mike weimer and lol:
    WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU???????
    being a resident of joplin, i take great offense to your comments!
    i wish for one second you could be here to see the utter devastation and people who have lost everything..
    or better yet, i wish you would experience a similar catastrophe!
    hundreds are dead or missing and thousands have lost everything they own!
    THIS IS NO LAUGHING MATTER!!

    May 28, 2011 at 2:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Chig

      You should never wish ill deeds upon others.

      May 28, 2011 at 3:00 am | Report abuse |
    • seeNN

      Mike Weimer wasn't laughing. And the person named "lol" wasn't laughing at Joplin. CNN is famous for getting things wrong in every article. Why isn't anyone made at CNN for trivializing the events that REALLY happened there?

      May 28, 2011 at 3:53 am | Report abuse |
    • seeNN

      Mike Weimer wasn't laughing. And the person named "lol" wasn't laughing at Joplin. CNN is famous for getting things wrong in every article. Why isn't anyone mad at CNN for trivializing the events that REALLY happened there?

      May 28, 2011 at 3:54 am | Report abuse |
  8. Chico

    Tracey Widger I am sorry about your loss but do not wish anything that you would not want to be wished upon you.

    May 28, 2011 at 3:06 am | Report abuse |
  9. Amanda

    Tracey – did you even bother to read and understand what mike and lol were saying? They weren't laughing at the devastation, they were laughing at the fact that CNN apparently can't be bothered to proof-read their articles. CHILL OUT.

    And ps – what the heck kind of person are you to wish such a thing on someone else? What is wrong with YOU?

    May 28, 2011 at 3:07 am | Report abuse |
  10. Thomas

    Tracy i don't believe they, for one second were laughing at the event....just at cnn as I often do on their horrible ability to report the news....God Bless the people of Joplin

    May 28, 2011 at 3:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Garsneezo

      Don't worry, Thomas, god blessed the CRAP outta Joplin. Go Jeebus!

      May 28, 2011 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
  11. Memisko

    I hope people who survived can heal quickly and get back to somewhat normal soon. In the end, life is a short journey and it ends in different ways for everyone. One can only hope to be in a good place with Allah when the journey ends so the judgement day will be a day of pleasure of joy and great rewards vs further agony and punishment.

    May 28, 2011 at 3:17 am | Report abuse |
  12. JD

    Does CNN ever fact check their articles? Quake Hit? I mean come on, I think we're all pretty sure it was a Tornado.

    May 28, 2011 at 3:19 am | Report abuse |
  13. Myanmar

    Does anyone believe that all these natural disasters are an act of God. Not random events due to global warming or something absurd? Don't ask me what people did to deserve this? May be they are in a better place now.. Life is not the ultimate form of existence. If it is, it has a sad ending for non-believers.

    May 28, 2011 at 3:26 am | Report abuse |
    • jdoe

      Maybe so, but it's apparently a sad ending for believers as well.

      May 28, 2011 at 3:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Garsneezo

      And if there is a god, then it's also a sad ending for followers of each of the 2,998 gods that aren't the right one, as the one thing many gods have in common is that you have to believe in them, specifically. That's one hell of a bet to take, bad odds. Best to forget the whole god-worship thing and just be a good person because it's the right thing to do.

      May 28, 2011 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
  14. brian

    i feel sorry for family whose lost their life and everythings i will pray for them hopefully they are strong to go through this mess.

    May 28, 2011 at 3:29 am | Report abuse |
  15. BigD

    I thought was just me, but CNN has some issues with the way some of their articles are writen. It's almost as though they're allowing third-graders write their columns.

    May 28, 2011 at 3:31 am | Report abuse |
    • seeNN

      They are headquartered in Atlanta.

      May 28, 2011 at 3:55 am | Report abuse |
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