‘Putting Families Back Together': Meet the Woman Who Buries Cook County's Unclaimed Dead

On the grounds of the Mount Olivet Cemetery many gathered for a special funeral service Rebeca Perrone had a hand in bringing together.

Perrone works for the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office, where for the past three she has worked hard to reunite families with their deceased loved ones who have been at the ME’s office for more than a year.

“Their loved one has passed away, they have no idea how they are going to handle the burial," she told NBC 5. "That’s what I am here to help them do.”

Before taking on the role of Cook County’s first indigent coordinator, Perrone worked as a social worker.

“With DCFS work I had people who were very emotional and so in the same situation, here I am dealing with families who are in the worst situation of their lives,” Perrone said.

One by one Perrone prepares each of the cremated remains for burial.

Funeral directors volunteer their time to transport those remains and the Archdiocese of Chicago provides the burial plots free of charge.

“I try to be calm and compassionate with families as I can be so I can help through this situation,” Perrone said.

Besides the 75 people that she helped laid to rest her Wednesday, 24 unborn babies were buried along with two unidentified people. For Perrone, this is more than just a job.

She said she's honored to do the work and proud of the people she does it with at the medical examiner's office.

“You are putting families back together that maybe hasn’t seen each other for 40 years," she said. "It’s an awesome feeling.”

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