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An autopsy is a systematic examination by a qualified physician of the body of a deceased person for the purpose of determining the cause of death and recovering, from the body, evidence of the cause of death. A record is made of the findings of the autopsy including microscopic and toxicologic laboratory tests. These laboratory tests are conducted after the release of the body to the next of kin for burial. There is no charge to the next of kin for an autopsy nor for any of the tests which may be conducted by the Coroner.
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The remains of deceased persons are brought to the Coroner's Office because Ohio Law requires that the coroner investigate deaths of persons dying from criminal violence, by accident, by suicide, suddenly, when unattended by a physician for a reasonable period of time, in detention, or in any suspicious or unusual manner. Another reason that a body may be brought to the Coroner's Office is that the identity of the deceased or next of kin is unknown.
Not all persons brought to the Coroner's Office are autopsied. Certain cases are not autopsied where no "foul play" is suspected and evidence of a natural death is present. In other cases where there is the possibility of legal proceedings which may arise as a result of a homicide, accident, suicide, etc., an autopsy will be performed. In these cases both positive and negative information is found which substantiates the ruling and cause of death as signed by the Coroner.
Ohio Law (ORC 2108.52) provides that the Coroner does not need permission for an autopsy. The Office of the Coroner will attempt to comply with the wishes of the next of kin, if this does not conflict with the duties of the Coroner as charged by Ohio Law.
Routinely, the Coroner releases the body to a licensed funeral director. The next of kin of the deceased person should notify a funeral director who, in turn, will arrange the transportation for the deceased to the funeral home and obtain the necessary documents for burial or cremation.
Most often, the next of kin discuss the selection of a funeral director with other family members, clergy, or friends. The Office of the Coroner is prohibited from recommending a funeral director. A listing of funeral directors is available in the telephone book as well as other sources
Usually the clothing of the deceased is released to the funeral director for disposal or use as the family requests. In cases of homicide, various suicides, or vehicular death, the clothing may be held by the Coroner for use as evidence.
By Ohio Law (ORC 313.14) the Office of the Coroner will take possession of monies and other personal effects of the deceased. These items are inventoried and released to the next of kin. Money over $1000 may only be released with a "Release From Probate Order" from the court or a "Letter of Appointment" naming an executor of the estate of the deceased.
When a body is released from the Montgomery County Morgue, a signed death certificate may be available. However, there are times when a "deferred" death certificate is issued while the cause and/or manner of death are still be determining. The "deferred" death certificated enables the funeral services and burial to take place while our investigation continues. At the completion of our investigation, a supplemental death certificate is then issued with the final cause and manner of death.
The autopsy report, also called the protocol, usually takes about eight weeks to be completed after the autopsy. If microscopic and chemical tests are performed, this time period can be slightly longer.
Public coroner records are available for inspection by emailing a request to [email protected].
Certified copies of death certificates can only be obtained from the Montgomery County Bureau of Vital Statistics in the Reibold Building at 117 S Main Street Dayton, OH 45422. The telephone number is 937-496-3114. Some funeral directors order additional copies of death certificates upon request of the family, for the family's convenience. For other official purposes, reach out to the agency you are working with to determine if a certified death certificate is necessary or if a copy will suffice.
When a person dies under any of the circumstances mentioned in Types of Death to be Reported, the death shall be reported to the Office of the Coroner by either the police, fire department, EMTs, or medical agency.
In order to report a death, you should call the Office of the Coroner at 937-225-4156.
It is requested that the following information be given when known: