Frequently Asked Questions about the Office of the Coroner

Q. Why does the Coroner's Office  take possession of a body?
A. Ohio Law requires that the Coroner investigate deaths of persons dying from criminal violence, by accident, by suicide, suddenly, when unattended by 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.

Q. When is an autopsy performed?
A. 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 reformed. In these cases both positive and negative information is found which substantiates the ruling and cause of death as signed by the Coroner. Under a new change in the Ohio Revised Code, any child under age 2 years that is referred to the Coroner's Office with no known potentially lethal disease shall be autopsied unless contrary to the parent's religious beliefs.

Q. Does the Coroner need permission from the next-of-kin for an autopsy?
A. 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 changed by Ohio Law including due regard for the deceased's religious persuasion.

Q. What is an autopsy and is there a charge for it?
A. 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 toxicological 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.

Q. How will the body be released?
A. 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 transportation for the deceased to the funeral home and obtain the necessary documents for burial or cremation.

Q. How can a funeral director be selected?
A. Most often, the next-of-kin discusses 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.

Q. Where may clothing of the deceased be located?
A. Usually the clothing of the deceased is released to the funeral director or use as the family requests. In cases of homicide, various suicides, or vehicular death, the clothing may be held by the Coroner or investigating law enforcement agency for use as evidence.

Q. How can the personal effects and other valuables of the deceased be obtained?
A. 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.  A release from the court and/or the Coroner's Office or a "Letter of Appointment" naming an executor of the estate of the deceased may be required.

Q. When will autopsy report be completed?
A. The autopsy report, also called the protocol, usually takes about four weeks to be completed after the autopsy. If microscopic and chemical tests are performed, this time period can lengthen to two to four months.

Q. How long does it take for a death ruling to be made?
A. This procedure is handled differently by the various Counties. However, in most cases, a signed death certificate will be released by the Coroner in four to six days. When there is insufficient information available to complete the death certificate, a "Pending Findings, Facts and Verdict" death certificate enables the funeral services and burial to take place while additional chemical, microscopic slides preparation and examination, and investigation continues. At the culmination of these tests and investigation, the ruling is made based on all available information. A supplemental death certificate is then issued with the cause of death and ruling which supersedes the "Pending" death certificate.

Q. How can Coroner records be obtained?
  Call the Coroner's Office at (330) 424-5029. The procedure and fee will be explained at that time.