If a dead person’s family can be found, Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove will find them.
It might take weeks. It might take months, or even years. But Hargrove and his administrative assistant, Joy Yates, never give up.
They just wrapped up the case of a pedestrian struck and killed Jan. 19 on U.S. 49 by a Gulfport police SUV. They were able to identify the man as Edgar Lambert Jr. 54, of Bossier City, Louisiana. The case remains under investigation and will be presented to a grand jury.
Hargrove did not release the man’s name to the media until Tuesday after he and Yates had found Lambert’s sister in Louisiana and told her he had died.
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Hargrove is withholding the name of a homeless man whose decomposing body was found Jan. 22 in a shed in D’Iberville. The coroner was able to identify the man through jail records, but is still looking for his family.
Hargrove never wants a family to learn of a loved one’s death through the media. Lambert had no cellphone and no phone number in his wallet, so Hargrove did what he usually does. He ran Lambert’s name through a database that identifies associated individuals.
The list can stretch to 75,100 people. Hargrove’s office started making calls. They were having no luck. One last look through Lambert’s wallet Monday afternoon turned up a card that indicated he had recently visited an area hospital. A call to the hospital yielded an emergency contact.
The contact turned out to be a friend who put Hargrove in touch with Lambert’s sister.
Hargrove hopes to have the homeless man’s next of kin notified soon. If not, he said, he will probably release the man’s identity Wednesday.
Maybe a family member will be in touch if they read about the death.
“Everybody deserves to go home to their loved ones,” he said.