By Cleve Bryan
CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS)– Camden County Police are launching an internal investigation after at least two families were not notified of a relative’s death for several weeks despite police having positively identified the deceased immediately.
According to spokespersons for the Camden County Police Department and Prosecutor’s Office the bodies of Gerald O’Bryant of Camden and Bruce Macomber of Cherry Hill were both found in Camden after drug overdoses.
In both cases their families filed missing person reports and conducted private searches even though the bodies were in the morgue the whole time.
Stephanie Macomber says her husband Bruce took a bus into Camden on August 20th and was found dead there that night with identification in his pocket. She filed a missing person report the same day but didn’t get notice until September 16th.
She says Cherry Hill Police eventually notified her that Bruce’s body had been in the morgue the entire time. The reason she didn’t receive notice of his death despite police having identified for several weeks is officially under investigation.
“I asked the detective if my husband is in the morgue would I find out. She said if he was there they would know in 10 minutes,” says Macomber.
Nyzia Easterling says she spoke to police every single day after her uncle Gerald O’Bryant went missing on October 11. She says the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office even helped her put together a missing person flyer even though their office had identified O’Bryant on the night of his death.
“Somebody needs to take accountability for what was done. They need to give my grandmom a public apology,” says Easterling who organized multiple searches through Camden for her uncle.
According to Camden County Prosecutor’s spokesperson Jason McLaughlin investigators from their department identified O’Bryant through fingerprints and gave his information to Camden police to notify next of kin.
He says it is standard policy for police of the municipality where a body is found to provide family notification.
In regards to why both families had to wait so long to be notified even though police had identified the bodies right away Camden Police Chief Scott Thomson issued this statement:
“This is absolutely unacceptable. We are conducting a comprehensive investigation and audit of our sudden death notifications and policies. I have requested the Camden County Prosecutor to assist us with this internal review to prevent any possible reoccurrence.”
Both the Macombers and O’Bryants say they are speaking with lawyers about filing lawsuits.