BELTON, Texas (KWTX) Update: The operators of Crotty Funeral Home tell KWTX a family member has come forward to claim the body of the man killed while trying to cross the interstate on Sept. 29 just south of Salado.
(Photo by Kathleen Serie)
Willis Lorenzo Gibson Jr.'s brother, Rodger Gibson contacted the funeral home Friday after being referred by a local research analyst.
Williamson County Precinct Four Chief Deputy Constable Mark Birchard said after he saw the story air on KWTX Thursday, he asked a research analyst at his office to attempt to locate surviving family members of Gibson.
He said the next day, the analyst had found Gibson's brother, and referred him to the Crotty Funeral Home.
Rodger Gibson told Birchard that his bother usually carried his sister's contact information with him, but officials were unable to tell him whether the deceased had anything on him at the time of his death.
The family lives in Missouri, and said they were not aware Gibson had died.
Crotty Funeral Home Owner and Director Jarrah Crotty said Gibson is now being cremated and sent back home to Missouri with his family.
She said all donations received when Gibson was unclaimed have been refunded.
A local funeral home is attempting to locate the family of a homeless man whose body has been unclaimed since September.
Willis Lorenzo Gibson, Jr., 62, was struck while attempting to cross Interstate 35 on Sept. 29 just south of Salado.
Gibson’s body was taken to a morgue where it was held until a few weeks ago, when the Crotty Funeral Home in Belton took custody of the remains, determined to find the man’s family.
So far, no family members or friends have come forward to claim Gibson’s remains, and so far authorities have been unable to find photos, records of military service or any additional information about the man.
“Just think how someone cannot have someone, just one person that cares for them or knows them or anything about them, or kids, or just a friend, and it's the Christmas time. It's just really sad that he has nobody,” Crotty Funeral Home Director and owner Jarrah Crotty said.
She said the funeral home has even searched social media to find someone who knew the man, with no luck.
Crotty said the funeral home takes in about 10 unclaimed bodies each year, but it usually does not take this long to find family members.
“There usually, by this time, is somebody, like a friend or someone that knew of him, or that knew him,” Crotty said.
“We have people in the community calling, they're like, I'll claim him, but it has to be someone who actually knows maybe a little bit of the questions that we don't have, like where he was born."
Bell County will pay for cremation services in such cases, but Crotty says under state law, an unclaimed body cannot be cremated until a relative has been notified.
If no family members come forward, a judge could eventually approve cremation of the remains, she said.
The funeral home could bury Gibson without family approval, but would have to bear all the expenses, Crotty said.
Some community members have expressed interest in raising funds to pay for a funeral.
Crotty is asking anyone information about Gibson to call the funeral home at (254) 933-0900