Adams County Coroner: Pay $1000 or County Keeps Remains

QUINCY — An Illinois coroner is facing sharp criticism for how he handles poor people who can’t afford to bury their loved ones.

Adams County Coroner James Keller has them sign over their rights to the deceased, then cremates the body and keeps the ashes until the family pays $1,000.

If they can’t come up with the money, the ashes are eventually buried, along with others, in an unmarked grave.

Keller says the policy started after the financially struggling state announced it was too broke to pay for indigent funerals and burials. The policy continues even though Illinois has resumed paying for indigent burials.

Some residents want to change the policy. They say it amounts to the coroner’s office holding ashes hostage and creates a financial crisis for struggling relatives.