A two-paragraph death notice appeared in the Thursday, Aug. 1, edition of The Forum, placed on page A6 among the obituaries:
"Jonathan Wayne Liles, 58, Fargo, N.D., died Sunday, July 14, in Fargo.
"Arrangements are pending with Boulger Funeral Home and Celebration of Life Center."
Consider it a call to anybody who might know Liles to step forward and tell authorities if the man who died in a fire in a north Fargo storage unit had any family who might want to claim his body and give it a service and burial.
Or maybe they'd just want to say goodbye.
Nearly three weeks after Liles was found dead at 2:30 a.m. in storage unit 175 at 1725 First Ave. N. near downtown, his body remains unclaimed despite the efforts of the Cass County coroner's office, Boulger Funeral Home and the Fargo Police Department. The police, who believe Liles was living in the 10-foot by 10-foot unit, have determined Liles was from Georgia, but didn't have success finding any relatives from that state, according to deputy coroner Darin Haverland.
"It's pretty unusual we don't find any next of kin. Even the police struck out and they have all the resources and means of trying to find people," Haverland said. "We're getting to a point where we need to move forward with Mr. Liles' remains, so we decided it was time to put out a feeler and see if anybody responded."
So let the word go forth: If you knew Jonathan Liles, or if you know he has relatives and know where they might be, tell the authorities. Call the Cass County coroner's office, call Boulger Funeral Home, call the Fargo Police.
Heck, call or email me. I'll pass along the information.
Share this column on Facebook, post it on Twitter, email it to friends. Get out word that Liles is awaiting a relative, or friend, or anybody willing to claim his body and give it a proper burial.
And do it quickly, because by early next week it's likely the decision will be made to bury Liles' body at Springvale Cemetery in north Fargo, the county-owned plot off University Drive and 32nd Ave. N., using money from a fund meant for the burial of indigent people.
"It's just kind of sad that nobody has stepped forward and claimed Mr. Liles' body," Haverland said.
It's not unheard of, though. Cass County Social Services covered the interments of 57 indigent people in 2018. There are between 50 and 75 indigent burials each year in the county.
Even with a death that received heavy local media coverage, little is known about Liles. Court records show he had several misdemeanors in recent years, including a couple that might indicate homelessness. Liles asked for, and received, indigent defense services in the court cases.
But even the minor legal issues Liles had reveal little other information. He didn't provide next of kin in his court papers.
"Some people don't want to be found, I guess," Haverland said. "Some people become estranged from their families over the years. Sometimes there is a fracturing of relationships, often because of drugs or alcohol abuse. In this case, we don't know."
If no family steps forward to claim Liles' remains, his body will likely be buried in Springvale, according to Marty Baumgartner of Boulger Funeral Home in Fargo. Indigent burials are often attended by a funeral home representative, county coroners and possibly a clergy member.
And that's about it.
Can anybody help find Jonathan Liles' next of kin? Does anybody know anything about him or his family?
Spread the word. Let's do what we can do.