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Upon your arrival

You will be asked to complete a questionnaire regarding the decedent you are about to identify. It will consist of some basic personal questions such as your name, age, and your relationship to the decedent. You will be required to produce a picture ID, such as a driver's license or other state ID. Included in the process will be a form to sign regarding the release of the decedent's medical records.

A questionnaire is required regarding the decedent you are identifying. The form will ask for general information such as name, age, and relationship to the decedent. A government issued driver's license or other state identification (ID) is required for identity verification. Also, a form regarding the release of the decedent's medical records will need to be completed.

Operating Hours

The Medical Examiner's Office operates 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.
The office is open to the general public: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except for official Wayne County holidays.
Holiday and weekend hours 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Identification Hours

Decedents can be identified from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Weekends and official Wayne County holidays 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

I think I may have found someone I know. What do I do now?

If you believe you have identified someone you recognize in the database, please contact the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office Investigative Department at 313-833-2570. You may be asked to provide some identifying characteristics to assist us in making sure that your researched information is a match.


An Investigator at the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office will assist the legally recognized next of kin in making a visual identification of the decedent through a monitor in the viewing room. After positive identification has been made, arrangements for a burial may be made through the funeral home or a cremation society of your choice. The funeral home will ask the legally recognized next of kin to sign a body release form. This form is needed by the Medical Examiner's Office for proper and expedient release of the decedent.

What is the difference between Unclaimed and Unidentified Persons?

Unclaimed Person - decedents that are currently at the Medical Examiner's office where the legally recognized next of kin has not contacted a funeral home to make final arrangements.

Unidentified Person - The Medical Examiner's Office is unable to determine the identity of a deceased person and therefore cannot notify the legally recognized next of kin.

How often is the database updated?

The database is updated daily.

How do I find Unidentified Persons in the database?

To find individuals that the Medical Examiner's Office has been unable to Identify, Select "Unidentified/Unknown" in the Search Type selector at the top of the tool.

What is an autopsy?

An autopsy is a thorough examination of the body, inside and out. It is performed to document or rule out injuries, diseases or detection of a crime. The procedure is initiated by a medical doctor called a forensic pathologist who completes special scientific test. An autopsy may take 2-3 hours or longer to perform and is often followed by laboratory tests, some of which can take months to complete. A pathologist who studies the cause and effects of disease and injury, then gathers specimens of the organs and body fluids for testing. He or she then prepares a written autopsy report. Please contact the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office at 313-833-2504 to find out how to obtain a copy of the autopsy report. An autopsy does not interfere with the family making final arrangements with the funeral home or a cremation society.

What if I do not want an autopsy performed on my relative?

Please let us know as soon as you can. We try to accommodate the family's wishes when possible, however sometimes an autopsy is required. A legal certificate of religious belief must be filed prior to the autopsy. A court order can override this certificate. Religious belief exemptions cannot be made for children under 18 or if we have an obligation to fulfill our state-mandated functions or to meet the needs of law enforcement agencies.

Is there a fee associated with an autopsy?

There is no charge to the family for an autopsy to be performed. The instances that fees are charged for services are listed below.

  • Autopsy report (which includes the Toxicology report) $50.00
  • Case Registration: $20.00
  • Cremation permit: $75.00
  • Death Certificates: No fee. Copies can be released. However, our death certificates are not certified because the death certificates are not completed.
  • Freedom of Information Act requests (fees applicable to FOIA statute)
  • Pathology slides: $15.00 per slide
  • Photographs: $15.00 per black/white photograph. $20.00 per color photograph (a written authorization from next-of-kin or subpoena required)
  • Proof of Death statement: $20.00
  • Toxicology report (excludes the Autopsy report) $10.00
Will I still be able to have an open casket service if an autopsy is performed?

Yes. Autopsies are performed in a professional manner that does not interfere with the viewing of the decedent, provided that the body was in a condition suitable for viewing prior to the autopsy.

Is viewing or visitation allowed while the decedent is under the jurisdiction of the Medical Examiner?

No. Viewing or visitation is not allowed while the body is at the Medical Examiner's Office. The viewing or visitation should take place at the funeral home chosen by the legally recognized next of kin.

How long will it take before the decedent is released from the Medical Examiner's jurisdiction?

The decedent will be available for release after completion of the examination. Upon receipt of a signed authorization from the legally recognized next of kin, the decedent will be released to

a licensed funeral home or cremation society

designated on the authorization form.
If a family does not have funds for burial, what will happen to the body?

There are processes in place in which decedents that are indigent, unclaimed, or unidentified are released from the Medical Examiner's office for disposition. Consideration for indigent, unclaimed, and unknown cremations is done on a case-by-case basis. After reviewing the case, the Medical Examiner works in conjunction with the Wayne County Department of Human Services (DHS) and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to obtain State Emergency Relief for cremation.

Can a Medical Examiner's case still be an organ or tissue donor?

Yes. Once the legally recognized next of kin has expressed interest, local tissue and organ procurement services work closely with the Medical Examiner to allow such donations whenever possible.

How and when will personal property be returned?

Personal property may be retrieved by the legally recognized next of kin after the identification process has taken place. If property is being retrieved by someone other than the legally recognized next of kin, then authorization such as a power of attorney must be provided by the legally recognized next of kin for that person to retrieve the personal property. If there is personal property that requires special handling, such as a weapon or objects considered as evidence by law enforcement authorities, additional information will be given to you. If another agency, such as law enforcement, has taken custody of weapons or personal belongings, we will provide you with the name of the agency and a contact person to assist you with any questions.

Who contacts the funeral home and when?

The legally recognized next of kin of the decedent selects a funeral home or crematory. They can then advise the funeral home that the body is under the jurisdiction of the Medical Examiner. The funeral director will take care of the remaining details.

How do I obtain a certified copy of the death certificate?

Certified copies of death certificates can be obtained by contacting your funeral home or the City Clerk's Office in which the death occurred. Copies of Death Certificates are also available at later dates through the Wayne County Clerk's Office. There may be a charge for this service.

What does "pending" mean on a death certificate?

After the medical examination is complete, it is sometimes necessary to perform further analysis, be it medical or investigative in nature, to determine the exact cause and manner of death. An amended death certificate will be issued when the cause of death is finalized.

The death certificate shows the cause of death as "pending": Can I use this as proof of death?

A "pending" Certification of Death can be used as proof of death. If a Certification of Death is not immediately available, you may request a Certification of Death letter from our office.

Note: There are some institutions that will not accept a Certification of Death listing a cause of death as pending and will require the actual cause of death which may take some time.

When will the Medical Examiner's toxicology and autopsy reports be ready and how do I obtain copies?

Copies of the autopsy and toxicology reports are usually available approximately 4-6 months after the cause of death is determined and a death certificate is filed. If you desire these reports, please call the main number at 313-833-2504 or the Investigative Department at 313-833-2570.

Who can I call if I have questions about the Medical Examiner autopsy or toxicology reports I received?

Please call the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office at 313-833-2504 if you have any questions. Please have the decedent's case number as a reference if it is available.

My relative disappeared some time ago. Can I check your records of unidentified bodies to see if there might be a match?

Yes, both unclaimed and unidentified decedents are included in this database. Please search our website for daily updates.

Additionally, our unidentified decedants, as well as those from many other jurisdictions, can be searched on the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs).

Other information
  • The Medical Examiner Office processes approximately 3,000 cases each year.
  • The Medical Examiner's Office is open to handle reports of deaths 24 hours a day, 365 days a year..
  • More than 13,000 incidents of deaths are fielded by the office each year.