Fanned by a bad economy, increasing transiency and isolation, many more bodies are now going unclaimed — officials know who they are but can't find anyone who wants them.
In Milwaukee County, 10 bodies remain unidentified from the last 30 years: among them, an Asian man found under the 27th Street viaduct in 1998, a woman pulled from the lake, and a murdered baby.
In Rock County, an unidentified body found along Turtle Creek in 1995 is buried in Johnstown Cemetery.
"Rock County does not have a cooler, so we bury unidentified people," said Rock County Coroner Jenifer Keach.
Numbers of unidentified bodies can be hard to pin down, said Milwaukee Medical Examiner investigator Genevieve Penn after a recent search.
A freezer in the Dane County morgue houses two of three unidentified bodies recovered in the last 21 years.
The skeletonized remains of a third are kept elsewhere in the morgue, Interim Coroner Barry Irmen says.The remains of a slender man in women's clothes have cooled for 21 years at the Dane County morgue, unidentified since he was found at the bottom of a chimney at a music store on University Avenue.Two other unidentified bodies share the morgue's small freezer — a man found face down near East Side railroad tracks in July 2002 with a bullet hole in his head, and another man whose decomposed body was found last year by a grounds crew working near Picnic Point.Also unidentified: a full-term infant found abandoned in a garbage bag near a rural road in Dodge County last year.Dodge County Medical Examiner Patrick Schoebel said detectives dubbed her "Baby Theresa" because she was found near the Village of Theresa.Across the state, more than a dozen lonely bodies remain unnamed in county morgues or paupers' plots, buried at county expense.