Missing body found at medical examiner's office

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A mystery is solved at the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office. The missing body of a Chicago woman was found Tuesday, one day after it had been misplaced. Sixty-four-year-old Rosalie Schultz died Friday of heart problems complicated by heat stress.

The discovery ends an agonizing 24 hours for her family, who found out she was missing when representatives of a funeral home went to retrieve her body.

Rosalie Schultz wasn't married. She had no children. But she did have a very large network of friends, cousins and an uncle who loved her. They say she had a great sense of humor and everyone ABC7 spoke to today say that she no doubt would have seen humor in all this. Nonetheless, they say the mishap is inexcusable.

"I was shocked. I couldn't believe it. How do you lose a body?" said Fred Babrich, victim's uncle.

That is pretty much the question that everyone who knew Rosalie Schultz is asking today. The 64-year-old woman died at her home last Thursday from heart stress. Then yesterday, when funeral director Bill Andersen went to pick up her body at the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office, something went wrong.

At first, Schultz's loved ones though it was a joke.

"At first we were just stunned. Then we kinda said that would be just like Rose to hide, and then we said she'd be late for her own funeral, and she almost was," said Vicky Burke, victim's best friend.

Finally, this morning, the medical examiner called with the news. Rosalie Schultz's remains had been found.

"We had to physically move bodies from one place to another," said Dr. Scott Denton, interim chief medical examiner. "She was found on an upper tier behind another body. We are overfilled right now, and if a body is not picked up within a day or two, they are moved to upper tiers."

The medical examiner typically handles 18 to 25 cases a day. Still, Schultz's family and friends say this is inexcusable.

"You just don't tell somebody, I'm sorry we can't find her, and then all of a sudden, 24 hours later, oh we found her," said Burke.

Unfortunately, this has happened before. In May 2005 two bodies were sent to the wrong places. One ended up in the wrong grave.

"They only have so much room. People keep getting shifted and shifted. The morale is horrible down there. They're understaffed, overworked. They're not hiring new people," said Bill Andersen, funeral director.

Rosalie Schultz's body is now at the funeral home and the service that was almost called off is back on tomorrow.

The medical examiner told ABC7 this whole incident is a big embarrassment for him and his department, and he has already apologized to the family.

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