INDIANAPOLIS — Hundreds of people in Marion County who pass away don't have any loved ones to bury them. However, a couple of local groups tried to change that Monday for nearly 200 people while raising awareness.
Strangers gathered at Antioch Church to celebrate the lives of 173 men and women.
"There's a lot of people alone," said Linda Znachko, founder of He Knows Your Name ministry.
Those laid to rest Monday passed away sometime between 2006 and 2019 in Marion County and were never buried.
"Celebrating their lives, raising awareness. educating, is trying to change this deep, dark secret to being something we just choose to enter into bravely and take care of. It's time it's exposed, it's time to celebrate these lives," said Znachko.
Znachko's ministry worked with the Marion County Coroner's Office.
"Sometimes people just don't have families, or their families don't have the resources, and so we take it upon, what we are supposed to do, according to coroner law, and we cremate the decedent. However, identifying that final resting place was a little bit more of a challenge because there's no law that says, 'This is what you do,'" said Marion County Chief Deputy Coroner Alfarena McGinty.
Following a procession to Oaklawn Memorial Gardens, volunteers formed a line holding the ashes of each individual.
Dale Greeson is burying his friend.
"My brother said, 'Hey, they're getting ready to bury Larry. Did you know that?' and I'm like, 'No! What do you mean?' It surprised me that he wasn't already buried," said Greeson.
One by one, their names were read during a ceremony at an ossuary, which is their final resting place, giving them dignity and honor and to say they matter.
At one point, the coroner's office had 175 unclaimed individuals. As a result of news coverage, two were reunited with family. The coroner's office has more unclaimed remains dating back to 2020. It plans to hold a memorial service annually going forward.