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. Cathy

    Seriously? How can you typo the EVENT? Its not even close. Proof read nexts

    May 28, 2011 at 5:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Me in ME

      "A Newton County, Missouri, official said authorities would begin streamlining the process of identifying bodies Saturday in quake-hit Joplin."

      QUAKE-hit?! Seriously? Someone wasn't paying attention....

      May 28, 2011 at 5:23 am | Report abuse |
    • citylightz

      CNN doesn't bother proof reading their articles. I don't think that they even take the time to use automated spell checkers.

      It kind of makes you wonder about the accuracy of the stories doesn't it?

      May 28, 2011 at 6:57 am | Report abuse |
  2. Fish-ing for responses

    an earthquake hit joplin?

    May 28, 2011 at 5:11 am | Report abuse |
  3. Fish-ing for responses

    i hoped that 'god saved us' was satire. i mean, seriously, when do people stop chalking up every pro to an event as god's act? how about, your crap wasn't in the tornados path? i mean, seriously...

    May 28, 2011 at 5:16 am | Report abuse |
  4. Crater

    QUAKE-HIT Joplin??? Proof read!!!

    May 28, 2011 at 5:33 am | Report abuse |
  5. Xenia

    To the people that lost their homes and loved ones,I'm so sorry for your loss. To the heartless people in this blog that are more concerned with minor errors and are LOL about it,you must never have made a mistake. So you must be perfect or think you are. Please grow up and focus on what is really important. The loss of life.

    May 28, 2011 at 6:22 am | Report abuse |
  6. FightCrimes

    Quake-hit? and they still haven't fixed it! My goodness!

    May 28, 2011 at 6:28 am | Report abuse |
  7. PARROT

    QUAKE?....OMG WHO WRITES THOSE ARTICLES FOR CNN? MUST BE A PAKI OR A HINDU...!!

    May 28, 2011 at 6:38 am | Report abuse |
  8. Gator

    Once all the bodies have been identified maybe the authorities will lift the 9pm curfew meant to control looters.

    May 28, 2011 at 6:55 am | Report abuse |
  9. Gator

    Accuracy? What about intent? Obviously their inteneded purpose is NOT to bring us accurate news. It's something else entirely.

    May 28, 2011 at 7:19 am | Report abuse |
  10. Dawn M

    Show some respect CNN. It was an F-5 TORNADO that hit Joplin, not an earthquake, but you probably know that by now. Please revise the article.

    May 28, 2011 at 7:20 am | Report abuse |
  11. Ellis

    I heard it was neither. Not a tornado and not an earth quake. It was a tsunami. That wave is what devastated Joplin.

    May 28, 2011 at 7:32 am | Report abuse |
  12. 9pm Joplin curfew

    Those aren't officials searching the dead bodies for identification. Those are fellow Americans looting each other. Natural disasters bring us closer to our roots: profiting from other peoples misery. (reference Africa)

    May 28, 2011 at 7:34 am | Report abuse |
  13. Raymond

    CNN, please stop hiring former FOX reporters. They don't know the difference between a tornado and an earthquake.

    May 28, 2011 at 7:36 am | Report abuse |
  14. T. Jefferson

    At least Fox News doesn't make these types of stupid mistakes while promulgating their lies and half truths. They obviously have some good proof readers.

    May 28, 2011 at 7:37 am | Report abuse |
  15. Gator

    Yeap. Americans like to get real close to each other after a disaster. Close enough for looting. Makes me proud that Joplin's anti-looting curfew is at 9pm rather than the customary 8.

    May 28, 2011 at 7:41 am | Report abuse |
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