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=""%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. bb

    So trite to say bring up tax money when service isn't up to your expectations.

    May 28, 2011 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
    • porchiaknows

      Said NOTHING about funeral services. They were referring to the CORONER'S office:

      "Where is the help that we’re getting?' " she said, referring to the coroner's office. "Is this where our tax dollars are going?”

      May 28, 2011 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  2. Cesar

    Onesey? Never heard of that filthy dump.

    May 28, 2011 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
  3. Lourie

    The photograph with this story says EVERYTHING about what most intelligent people find to be such a turn off about evangelicals. Here you have a community that has been devastated by a natural disaster. hundreds dead and/or missing, families suffering after losing not only loved ones but every material possession they own other than the clothes they had on their backs.. and what is the CHRISTIAN thing to do? Well it must be the CHRISTIAN thing to write a message on the side of what is left of your home insinuating that God somehow valued YOU over those who have died. That YOU are somehow more worthy of life in the eyes of God than are the men, women, and children who were killed in this tragic event.

    "God Saved US"... Seriously... You really believe that a god went through this town during the tornado and hand picked YOU as being too damn good to die? REALLY?

    May 28, 2011 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Keith

      It's truly sad that all people can do is be-little other people for how they think. I feel sorry for you Lourie, maybe you should keep your athiest beliefs to yourself.

      May 28, 2011 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Kim

      Oh shut up! That's not even what they meant!!

      May 28, 2011 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Kim

      Keith, my comment is to Lourie as well. I AGREE with you,'s absolutely infuriating that someone would even interpret that in that way! PATHETIC!! People just wait for an opportunity to bash Christians.

      May 28, 2011 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Keith

      Lourie: I almost forgot, I don't find you intelligent. So you have read a few books that doesn't make you smart. Sometimes things are just better left un-stated. Like your comment. I'm a non-believer myself pal.

      May 28, 2011 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Lourie

      Tell me.. In an area where hundreds have been lost... when you point out that God saved YOU? What exactly DOES that mean? If you were in an automobile accident with 5 people and they all died... would you go to their families and point out that "God saved ME..."? Are you idiots really too shallow minded to see the implication there?

      And why is it that Christian views should be broadcast around the world but Atheist views should be kept quiet?

      May 28, 2011 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Keith

      Kim: Exactly, I never understand why some people need make fun of what some people believe. And it's not just people who believe in GOD. Politics, where you live, your race, it's just pathetic.

      May 28, 2011 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Keith

      Lourie: Turn the channel! Some of my best friends are christians, and they are invariably trying to change me, they lost a child years ago and believe that GOD took her for a better reason. So let them believe, if it gets them squared away and back to being human again. What's wrong with that? My favorite saying "to each their own" Good Luck Lourie.

      May 28, 2011 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • youreidiots...

      Keith and Kim- you're idiots. you claim lourie is misinterpreting the comment in the picture but then you misinterpret her comment in return while criticizing her...too bad the tornado didn't find you ... i agree with lourie in a different way...if god is real and loves everyone...then why let a tornado come through in the first place... you christians are stupid...

      May 28, 2011 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Keith

      Hey youranidiot: Apparently you can't read I'm a non-believer, Why don't you make like a tornado and show up at my door. We will see what happens!

      May 28, 2011 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Doug in Ohio

      Can`t we just all get along...

      May 28, 2011 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      Lourie.. these folks are in more pain than any of us could possibly imagine so please keep small minded remarks like this to yourself!! Its really quite sad that you would say something so distasteful and heartless when so many are suffering!! I will leave my own beliefs completely out of this discussion because thats not why I'm here.. I'm here to tell my fellow Americans that most of us grieve with you and care tremendously about you!!! pss.. we ALL need something or someone to believe in when faced with this kind of devastation.. if that in some way lessens their pain then what the hell could you possibly find wrong with that???????

      May 28, 2011 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Keith

      Lisa: PERFECT!

      May 28, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Nyonben

      Lourie: agreed.

      May 28, 2011 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • julia

      Lourie, yours is the very best comment on this site. Thank you for putting my own feelings into such eloquent words.

      May 28, 2011 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kandyce

      Wow... thats all I have to say. These people are grieving and all you have to offer is words of hate and narcissism. Get over yourself. (Lourie) This is the way that they are dealing with their tragedy, in no way are they insinuating that God has saved them above the others. You don't have to agree with their beliefs, but please take their plight to heart before commenting hatefully.

      June 15, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Aezel

    “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?”

    Oh SHUT THE F*** UP YOU DUM3 31TCH!!! In case you haven't noticed the most deadly tornado in U.S. history occurred and a town was wiped off the map. Yeah, there is going to be some unpleasant delays at the mortuary. Deal with it. "Is this where our tax dollars are going?” <--Dumbest comment EVER.

    May 28, 2011 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Keith

      Hey Aezel; Sometimes in the heat of battle people say things they don't really mean. When your test comes, I hope you don'f fail!

      May 28, 2011 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  5. Kim

    Keith, my comment is to Lourie as well. I AGREE with you,'s absolutely infuriating that someone would even interpret that in that way! PATHETIC!!

    May 28, 2011 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  6. fred

    God does not steer EQ's nor tornado. Nor looters for that matter.

    May 28, 2011 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
  7. Beam Me Up Scotty

    Incompetence, lack of problem solving, lack of compassion... it's everywhere now.
    Imagine how bad it is going to get in the coming decades as these disasters become common.

    May 28, 2011 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
  8. jose madrigal yuma . az

    May god bless all the family.s in joplin and my sympaty goes out to the familys thats been lost ... keep your heads up....

    May 28, 2011 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  9. krippendorf

    My heart goes out to the residents of Joplin, but I do find it disconcerting that one person (at least) is blaming the government for not wanting to make mistakes in identifying bodies. Evidently, she doesn't realize or care that the Southern states get far, far more federal tax dollars than they bring in, partly because of disaster relief. Everyone wants something for nothing...

    There's a smiley face at the bottom of the spray-painted message, and yet CNN says that the photo captures the "hopelessness" of the residents? Umm, try looking at the photo first, CNN.

    May 28, 2011 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      It's not about getting the bodies back to the loved ones quickly. It's about being able to know to a 100% factor that it's the body of thier loved one. I'm sure that these bodies and body parts are not pretty to look at. The anger that these people feel is not helping thier loved ones get identified faster, it's just making the process slower.

      May 28, 2011 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  10. macabre bady looting

    Only in Joplin MO! And in LA during the King riots. And after Katrina. After any disaster really.

    May 28, 2011 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  11. Rodney

    These people are morons.It takes time to ID and find the cause of death.They can not just put died in a tornado on the death certificate,they have to put the real cause of death whatever it may be.The coroner office there probably do not see this many bodies yearly let alone in one week.

    May 28, 2011 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Keith

      Rodney, Exacty, except for the first sentence. Look in the mirror pal you might see a MORON.

      May 28, 2011 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  12. Vote Christian?

    Odd how you folks here put-down the religion of the man you voted for. Make up your mind. You call religious people crazy, yet vote for one? gooney-goo goo. coo coo, coo coo.

    May 28, 2011 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  13. macabre body looting

    @Rodney. Oh, like on OBLs death certificate?

    May 28, 2011 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  14. Jazzzzzzzz

    Yes the UGLY ppl seem to come out in droves after any natural disaster. Rodney King riots was just ludacris how they had made a mockery of what happened to this man even if he had been speeding NO PERSON deserved to get beaten like he did. I still can't watch that video without being absolutely repulsed.

    May 28, 2011 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  15. Vote the meantime, keep voting for the religious man. You can always put-down his religion after he's in office.

    May 28, 2011 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
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