Monday, September 24, 2012

Visit to the Morgue

Last week I had a chance to take a tour of our local morgue. The things that mystery writers consider interesting! The pathology technician showed me the whole layout and answered my myriad questions. Ours is a small morgue with only one table. Plans are underway to build a new coroner’s office and expanded the morgue within the next several years.

I duly donned a pair of blue Nitrile gloves. I was not witnessing an autopsy, only viewing the empty room. The cold storage area contained one decedent in a body bag.

Here are a few tidbits I picked up:
  • The autopsy team extensively photographs the process before and along the way.
  • The coroner notifies the next of kin of initial findings.
  • Toxicology reports take three to ten weeks.
  • The decedent can’t be released until identification is confirmed.
  • The body bag is kept locked with an identification code before the autopsy and returned to a body bag afterwards with a new lock.
  • They take fingerprints after the autopsy.
The technician talked me through the steps of an autopsy, and I took copious notes. I also asked about a case that had been in the newspaper recently. An elderly woman died from blunt trauma to the head, and the coroner ruled the death undetermined, since it was inconclusive if the death was the result of an accident or something more sinister. Police investigation continues. I was particularly interested in this case, since I have a similar death in one of my manuscripts. All in all an informative expedition. 

Mike Befeler


Kathryn Elizabeth Jones said...

I am a writer of mystery and this morgue list was very helpful!

Thank you.

Jaden Terrell said...

Very interesting, Mike. Thank you.

Mark W. Danielson said...

Too bad you couldn't witness an actual autopsy, Mike. My dad witnessed several when he was pre-Med. Not sure if that's why he chose a different field, but I imagine after a while, "parts is parts".