Finally, they got their first break when Denise, Patricia's sister, broke down on national television. During an interview with CNN, Denise's plea for help caught the attention of Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, the governor of Louisiana, and a rescue worker who had helped treat Ethel.
Days later, the family learned that Ethel's body was in a morgue—unclaimed and unidentified for more than five months. "We had a loving mother—a caring mother," Ethel's son Dennis says. "There is no way we wanted to see our mother go the way she did."
Anderson believes that it wasn't Ethel Herbert who was lost—it was the system that was lost. "We've talked to so many families who have been in that same situation...desperately searching," he says.