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What happened to the other four

Sunday, March 25, 2001

The Allegheny County coroner's office scheduled five unclaimed bodies for cremation last week. Regis Wolk was one. Here is what happened to the other four.


The Allegheny County Coroner's office plans to begin listing the names of unclaimed bodies on the county Web site within the next few weeks. The address will be: www.county.allegheny
and under the category "Departments," click "coroner."


Frederick H. "Fritz" Cumpston was 79 when he died in his room above the Amsterdam Bar in Sharpsburg on Feb. 21. A heavy drinker for years, he weighed 93 pounds when he died.

Until January, his $240-a-month one-room apartment was on the same floor as one occupied for 13 years by Wolk, who was evicted after New Year's. Down the hall lived Aubrey R. "Tiny" Odom, 53, who died Jan. 2.

The three of them often drank together, littering their rooms with empty cans and the remains of food.

While Cumpston had plenty of friends, none was more loyal during the past 30 years than Jim Kern, who made sure he was fed and cleaned, and received his monthly veteran's benefit check. Cumpston told Kern he was a radio operator with the Navy during World War II. But according to the Veterans Administration, Cumpston was an Army veteran who won a Purple Heart during the war.

The coroner's office could not locate any of Cumpston's relatives, and his body was embalmed and stored.

By chance, a friend of Jeannette Cumpston, who lives in Penn Hills, saw a published death notice last week. Cumpston called the coroner's office and claimed her uncle's body before it was cremated.

She last saw her uncle in late January. As was her habit, she left her phone number on the mirror in his room. She doesn't know why she was never called by the coroner's office; she was just glad to be able to claim her uncle's body.

In fact, Cumpston was buried yesterday at St. Peter's Cemetery in Lincoln-Lemington with full military honors, including taps, the folding of the American flag and a 21-gun salute.

"I had to take care of him after my dad died," Cumpston said. "I told my dad that if anything happened to him, I would make sure to get his brother a burial.

"Everybody deserves a decent burial."

Madonna McCombs was 64 when she collapsed and died March 3 at Woodland Manor, a nursing home in Oakdale. According to the coroner's report, she suffered from colitis, diverticulitis and schizophrenia.

For 20 years, she'd been cared for by Dr. Harold Shipkovitz. He told the coroner's office that McCombs' parents and stepmother had died years ago, and he knew of no next of kin or estate executor.

Last week, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul decided that McCombs was Catholic and made plans to handle her funeral.

Curtis Gupton was 64 when he was found dead in his Penn Circle Towers apartment Feb. 20. According to the coroner's report, Gupton had been last seen two weeks earlier by his next-door neighbor.

Because his body was decomposing, no cause of death was determined.

Gupton was cremated Wednesday.

Robert Reeves was 60 when he died Feb. 16 at the Heartland Health Center in Shadyside. According to the coroner's report, he was infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and had Hepatitis B and C plus other maladies.

The report listed a cousin with a phone number but the relative was never reached. The report stated that Reeves had a wife and two children. No other information was available.

Reeves was cremated Monday.

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