A Dallas family wants to know why they weren’t notified after a loved one was found dead and ID’d the same night.
Willie Floyd Miller was found dead on Aug. 11 and in the three months since his death his body was donated to science.
“I feel like they just disregarded my brother as though he was no one,” said sister Patrice Williams.
The Dallas Police Department has the responsibility for making the death notification to family members or next of kin when someone is found dead in the city. In this case the department admits it failed to do so.
“I don’t know why we didn’t know the day he died,” Williams said. “I should have never put in a missing person’s report because they had him the day after i talked to them. We didn’t find he was deceased until two and a half months later.”
Miller was found dead in a pick-up truck along some railroad tracks.
Deputy Chief Thomas Castro says human error is why Miller's family was not notified
The detective investigating Miller’s death was sent to a quadruple shooting at a Lake Highlands area motel the same night one person was dead at the scene.
“We don’t want to make it sound like we put these cases on a lower priority and they don’t receive the attention, but like I said, there’s human error involved and could the detective could have had his mind on other things that night,” Castro said.
The family of Miller only learned he was dead on Nov. 16.
“This happens by being extremely negligent in your duties this family should have never had to go through anything this tragic,” said the family’s attorney, Laurin Compton.
Autopsy results show Miller died from the toxic effects of cocaine.
The Medical Examiner says it tried to find next of kin -- checking hospitals for medical records including the V.A. searching white pages and other government sources.
“We followed a pretty extensive check list and it just did not lead back to the family,” said Dr. Jeffrey Barnard.
When the family went to the morgue on Nov. 17, it wasn’t there because it had been donated to science. Records show Miller's remains were briefly involved in a course for the studies of orthopedic research and surgery.
The family was only able to get the body back after it has been cremated.
Castro said the detective has been counseled and will be disciplined over the incident.
There will be re-training for all detectives in homicide and the special investigations unit on policy and procedures involving death notifications to next of kin.
Additional new protocols will also be added so that before a body is donated to science, the medical examiner checks once again with police and its fusion center to see if there are any updates.