Coroners and Genealogists Join Forces in New Show to Tackle Quiet Epidemic of Unclaimed Persons


Provo, UT -- (ReleaseWire) -- 05/28/2008 -- What happens to people when they die with no next of kin to claim their bodies?, an online channel dedicated to all aspects of genealogy and family history, has launched a new show, Unclaimed Persons, to bring attention to this largely unknown epidemic. Coroners’ offices across the country are struggling to cope with thousands of unclaimed people whose identities are known, but for whom no family can be found.

"I knew about John and Jane Does," said genealogist Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, "but I had no idea about all these unclaimed people who are usually cremated and buried in unmarked graves, and that's often after several months on a shelf in a morgue. We hear about abandoned pets, but you never hear about these abandoned bodies."

Accidentally stumbling across an article about one such case is what prompted Smolenyak Smolenyak to cold call a couple of coroners’ offices and offer her sleuthing skills for tracking down family members. Unclaimed Persons features cases – one involving a man who was found in his jeep in the desert and had been lost to his family for more than 50 years -- from Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania and San Bernardino County, California.

Says co-founder Marcy Brown, "We hope this show will create awareness, and that viewers will help with unsolved cases. But most of all, we hope it will motivate folks to pick up the phone and call that brother they haven’t spoken with in decades. I think it will make people ask themselves if maybe it’s time to call home."

Unclaimed Persons can be viewed at, and more information is available at

About was launched online in late 2006 and already provides more than 1,000 videos – free, on-demand and 24/7 -- for family history enthusiasts around the globe. In its first year, this Internet-based channel won four Telly Awards for its diverse programming. For more information, please visit