Las Vegas begins returning massacre victims' remains to families

LAS VEGAS, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Las Vegas officials have begun releasing the bodies of 58 people killed in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, but it could be months before families learn exactly how their loved ones died, Clark County Coroner John Fudenberg said on Thursday.

Days after Stephen Paddock, 64, sprayed bullets from the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas Strip hotel into a crowd attending a country music festival before killing himself, Fudenberg said his staff had worked day and night to notify families that their loved ones had been killed.

"This has been very, very difficult," Fudenberg said. Employees have endeavored to speak with as many as five family members per hour in recent days, he said.

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Victims of the Las Vegas shooting
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Victims of the Las Vegas shooting
Chris Roybal of Southern California, was a Navy veteran who served in Afghanistan, ABC News said. He was 28.

(Photo via GoFundMe)

Sonny Melton (pictured right) is seen with his wife Heather, who survived the shooting.

(Photo via Heather Gulish Melton)

Quinton Robbins, 20, is described by his aunt as "the most kind and loving soul."

(Photo via Kilee Wells Sanders/Facebook)

Jordan McIldoon (left), 23, of British Columbia, was confirmed dead by his parents as well as fellow concert-goer Heather Gooze, who said McIldoon died in her arms. 

(Photo via Facebook)

Victim of the October 1, 2017 mass shooting at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Jordan McIldoon, is seen in this undated social media photo obtained by Reuters October 3, 2017. Social media/Handout via REUTERS

Jassica Klymchuk, a single mother of 4, was visiting Las Vegas from Alberta with her fiancé. 

(Photo via Facebook)

Lisa Romero worked as a secretary at her local high school in Gallup, New Mexico. 

(Photo via Facebook)

Denise Burditus, of West Virginia, was attending the concert with her husband, and died in his arms. 

(Photo via Facebook)

Rachael Parker was a records technician for the Manhattan Beach Police Department in California, she was 33. 

(Photo via Twitter)
Susan Smith worked for the Simi Valley Unified School District in California.

(Photo via Facebook)

Adrian Murfitt was a commercial fisherman in Anchorage, Alaska, the Alaska Dispatch News reported. He was 35.

(Social media/Handout via REUTERS)

John Phippen of Santa Clarita, California, was a father of five, grandfather of one and owned a remodeling and repair company. 

(Photo via GoFundMe)

Angie Gomez was a 2015 graduate of Riverside Polytechnic High School in California.

(Photo via GoFundMe)

Victim of the October 1, 2017 mass shooting at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Angie Gomez, is seen in this undated social media photo obtained by Reuters October 3, 2017. Social media/Handout via REUTERS

Dana Gardner (pictured left) was attending the concert with her daughter, according to a GoFundMe page set up in her memory.

(Photo via GoFundMe)

Rhonda LeRocque attended the concert with her husband, and their 7-year-old daughter, who were not injured, according to the Boston Globe.

(Photo via Facebook)
Jenny Parks was a wife, mother to two young children and a teacher, according to a GoFundMe account set up in her memory.

(Photo via Facebook)
Nesya Tonks was the mother of three boys, according to a GoFundMe set up by her employeer, Technologent.

(Photo via GoFundMe)

Hannah Ahlers is survived by her husband and three children.

Photo Credit: Facebook

Carrie Barnette, 34, was in Las Vegas for a friends 30th birthday party.

Photo Credit: Nicole Johnson

Sandy Casey had taught special education for 9 years at the Manhattan Beach Unified School District. 

Photo Credit: Manhattan Beach Unified School District

Victim of the October 1, 2017 mass shooting at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Sandy Casey, is seen in this undated social media photo

(Social media/Handout via REUTERS)

Thomas Day Jr. is survived by his four children who attended the Route 91 Harvest Festival with him. 

Photo Credit: Thomas Day Jr./Facebook

Charleston Hartfield, 34, was an off-duty Las Vegas police officer, youth football coach, and military veteran. Our… https://t.co/UafOdLrcFz

Bailey Schweitzer was only 20 years old and had just started working at Infinity Communications and consulting as a receptionist 7 months ago. 

Photo Credit: Infinity Communications and Consulting

Victim of the October 1, 2017 mass shooting at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Bailey Schweitzer, is seen in this undated social media photo obtained by Reuters October 3, 2017. Social media/Handout via REUTERS
Victim of the October 1, 2017 mass shooting at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Melissa Ramirez, is seen in this undated social media photo obtained by Reuters October 3, 2017. Social media/Handout via REUTERS
Victim of the October 1, 2017 mass shooting at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Jack Beaton, is seen in this undated social media photo obtained by Reuters October 3, 2017. Social media/Handout via REUTERS
Christiana Duarte had begun working at her first full-time job since graduated college, according to the Los Angeles Times.

(Photo via Facebook)
Stacee Etcheber was a mother and wife to a San Francisco Police Dept. officer.

(Photo via Facebook)
Jennifer Topaz Irvine was a family law attorney based in San Diego, according to CBS News.

(Photo via Facebook
A fourth Kern County resident has passed away: Family of 27 y.o. Kelsey Meadows, confirm that she is the fourth Ker… https://t.co/DdzsCXbBh5
Calla Medig was described as a kind-hearted young woman with a beaming smile, according to CBC News in Canada.

(Photo via Facebook)
Cameron Robinson (pictured right) was an amazing friend, son, brother, uncle, cousin, coworker and boyfriend known for his love of cooking and dancing, according to a fundraising page set up in his memory.

(Photo via GoFundMe)
Family tells me Kurt Von Tillow from Cameron Park was killed in #LasVegasShooting. Say he ❤️ his country. Always wo… https://t.co/w7Ndiq5YlO

Bill Wolfe Jr. was a loving husband and a wrestling coach in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania.


(Photo via GoFundMe)

A fundraising account set up for Dorene Anderson (pictured top left) described her as a loving wife, mother, sister, aunt and friend.

(Phot via GoFundMe)

Steve Berger was celebrating his 44th birthday with a group of friends, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

(Photo via EFS Advisors)

Tara Roe Smith was the mother of two young sons, according to the Canadian Press. She was reportedly separated from her husband, Zach, during the shooting.  

(Photo via GoFundMe)
Erick Silva has been identified as one of the victims in the #LasVegasShooting https://t.co/uv3taTQCqU

Brennan Stewart had a love for music and his family requested that the funds raised from a GoFundMe account set up in his honor be used for a local youth organization that is centered around the arts.

(Photo via GoFundMe)

Michelle Vo was attending her first country music concert, according to the San Jose Mercury News.


(Photo via Facebook)

Heather Alvarado loved to travel with her three children and her husband, according to a statement released by the Cedar City Police Department to local media.

(Photo via GoFundMe)

Denise Cohen was a mother of two who was attending the concert with her boyfriend.

(Social media/Handout via REUTERS)

Victim of the October 1, 2017 mass shooting at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Jordyn Rivera, is seen in this undated social media photo.

(Social media/Handout via REUTERS)

Candice Bowers was a single mother of three and is described her as a superhero who loved country music; she was ki… https://t.co/9qh6ARaN2I
Andrea Castilla was celebrating her 28th birthday with her sister, boyfriend and her sister's fiancee, according to a GoFundMe page set up by her family.

(Photo via Facebook)
Austin Davis was considered a friend to all, according to a fundraising site set up in his memory. He was 29.

(Photo via GoFundMe)
Chris Hazencomb saved his friend's life by shielding her, the Ventura County Star reported. He was 44.

(Photo via GoFundMe)
Victor Link, 52, “I could type for hours saying how great of a man you were and how everyone loves you so so much.”… https://t.co/qu3fOQ3jY7
Lisa Patterson was a loving mother, wife and donated countless hours to her community, according to a GoFundMe account. She was 46.

(Photo via GoFundMe)
Rocio Guillen Rocha was still on maternity leave after giving birth to her fourth child six weeks ago, NPR reported. She was 40.

(Photo via GoFundMe)
Derrick "Bo" Taylor served the Ventura Conservation Camp for decades according to statement by the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation. He was 56.

(Photo via Facebook)
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The remains were slowly being released to local mortuaries, which have pledged to help both local and out-of-town families receive their loved ones and prepare them for funerals, Fudenberg said at a news conference.

A full list of the dead would be released later on Thursday, although Reuters and other news media have already confirmed the names.

Fudenberg said mortuary officials would be on site at a special assistance center at the coroner's office in Las Vegas to help families navigate such tasks as applying for a death certificate and arranging for their loved ones' remains to be sent to funeral homes.

22 PHOTOS
Makeshift memorial in Las Vegas for victims of the Route 91 music festival shooting
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Makeshift memorial in Las Vegas for victims of the Route 91 music festival shooting
Bry Thompson wipes away tears at a makeshift memorial in the middle of Las Vegas Boulevard following the mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
A woman leaves flowers at a makeshift memorial on the Las Vegas Strip for victims of the Route 91 music festival mass shooting next to the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
People leave flowers at a makeshift memorial on the Las Vegas Strip for victims of the Route 91 music festival mass shooting next to the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
A woman signs a memorial board on the Las Vegas Strip for victims of the Route 91 music festival mass shooting next to the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Greg Arnerich of Mesa, Arizona (R) and Brandon Metzger of Temecula, California view a memorial near the sight of the mass shooting along the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The Mandalay Bay hotel is shown through an American flag blowing in the wind at a memorial next to the mass shooting site along the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A sign is pictured at a makeshift memorial in the middle of Las Vegas Boulevard following the mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
Friends stop and pause at a makeshift memorial in the middle of Las Vegas Boulevard following the mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A woman leaves flowers at a makeshift memorial along Las Vegas Boulevard following a mass shooing in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
People gather at a makeshift memorial in the middle of Las Vegas Boulevard following the mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 04: Edith Garcia of Nevada wipes her eyes at a makeshift memoral set up along the Las Vegas Strip on October 4, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The memorial made with candles, flowers and mementos is in response to last Sunday night's shooting when a lone gunman opened fire on the crowd at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival killing at least 59 people and injuring more than 500. The massacre is one of the deadliest mass shooting events in U.S. history. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 04: Gloria Vitagliano of Nevada draws out the hashtag #VEGASSTRONG at a makeshift memoral set up along the Las Vegas Strip on October 4, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The memorial made with candles, flowers and mementos is in response to last Sunday night's shooting when a lone gunman opened fire on the crowd at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival killing at least 59 people and injuring more than 500. The massacre is one of the deadliest mass shooting events in U.S. history. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 04: A memorial for the victims of Sunday's shooting is seen along the Las Vegas Strip on October 4, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The makeshift memorial made with candles, flowers and mementos was created after a lone gunman opened fire on the crowd at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival killing at least 59 people and injuring more than 500. The massacre is one of the deadliest mass shooting events in U.S. history. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 04: Mourners attend a memorial on Las Vegas Boulevard and Reno Avenue for the victims of the Route 91 Harvest country music festival shootings. On October 1, 2017, lone gunman Stephan Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nevada opened fire on festival attendees leaving at least 59 dead and over 500 injured before killing himself. The investigation is ongoing. October 4, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 04: Mourners attend a memorial on Las Vegas Boulevard and Reno Avenue for the victims of the Route 91 Harvest country music festival shootings. On October 1, 2017, lone gunman Stephan Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nevada opened fire on festival attendees leaving at least 59 dead and over 500 injured before killing himself. The investigation is ongoing. October 4, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 04: Mourners attend a memorial on Las Vegas Boulevard and Reno Avenue for the victims of the Route 91 Harvest country music festival shootings. On October 1, 2017, lone gunman Stephan Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nevada opened fire on festival attendees leaving at least 59 dead and over 500 injured before killing himself. The investigation is ongoing. October 4, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 04: A memorial on Las Vegas Boulevard and Reno Avenue for the victims of the Route 91 Harvest country music festival shootings. On October 1, 2017, lone gunman Stephan Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nevada opened fire on festival attendees leaving at least 59 dead and over 500 injured before killing himself. The investigation is ongoing. October 4, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 04: Signs and candles are displayed at a makeshift memorial set up across from the Las Vegas Village on October 4, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The spontaneous memorial located on the Las Vegas Strip was implemented in response to Sunday night's shooting on October 3, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Late Sunday night, a lone gunman killed at least 59 people and injured more than 500 after he opened fire on a large crowd at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival. The massacre is one of the deadliest mass shooting events in U.S. history. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 04: A memorial on Las Vegas Boulevard and Reno Avenue for the victims of the Route 91 Harvest country music festival shootings. On October 1, 2017, lone gunman Stephan Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nevada opened fire on festival attendees leaving at least 59 dead and over 500 injured before killing himself. The investigation is ongoing. October 4, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images)
People comfort each other at a makeshift memorial outside the Route 91 music festival site in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 4, 2017, beside the Mandalay Hotel after a gunman fired from and killed 59 people and wounded more than 500 others when he opened fire from the hotel on a country music festival . Police said the gunman, a 64-year-old local resident named as Stephen Paddock, had been killed after a SWAT team responded to reports of multiple gunfire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay, a hotel-casino next to the concert venue. / AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 4: Flowers, cards and candles begin to fill the median Wednesday morning as a memorial for the victims of the mass shooting near the crime scene off Las Vegas Boulevard on October 4, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
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But he said it might be months before officials release the full causes of death for the 58 victims, because it will take a long time to sit down with all of the families and explain how their loved ones died.

Officials have said they anticipate that most of those who were killed in Sunday's massacre died of gunshot wounds, but have declined to speculate on whether some might have been trampled to death in the rush to leave the concert, or died of other causes.

At another family assistance center, at the Las Vegas Convention Center, representatives of airlines and taxi services will be available to help families arrange transportation for themselves, victims and survivors, officials said.

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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