State Medical Examiner's Office cuts overnight hours - - Jackson, MS

State Medical Examiner's Office cuts overnight hours

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
PEARL, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Coroners can't just drop off a dead body at the state medical examiner's office. In fact, if it's overnight, they have to find somewhere else to keep it. 

"It comes back, then it puts a burden to the county, said Copiah County Coroner Ellis Stuart. "Basically doubling your transport cost of autopsies,"

Stuart got an email at the end of March with a memo from the state medical examiner's office.

"It was, we will not accept bodies from 11 pm to 7 am," added Stuart.

Coroners we spoke with say there are added logistics and costs if they have to hold the bodies overnight. Some counties don't have a cold storage facility option at all.

"We have no place to store the body," said Winston County Coroner Scott Gregory. "We have to wait till the sun comes up, in other words to wait for the funeral homes to head that way."

Mississippi Bureau of Investigations spokesman Warren Strain said the office was just trying to be a good stewards of taxpayer dollars.

"During the overnight shift, there's been only 8% of the total cases that have come in come in during those operating hours," said Strain.

Strain contends cases won't be compromised because of reduced hours.

"It does not impact the solvability or jeopardize any of the evidence in any form or fashion," added Strain.

Still, Coroner Stuart has another concern. 

"I don't want to be violating the law but I don't have an option," said Stuart.

State law references bodies "shall be transported directly to an autopsy facility".

"I don't see how I'm not violating the law when I carry a body from my county to Rankin county to be held until the next day," said Stuart. 

The state medical examiner's office said on call hours are still an option but coroners we spoke with took the memo to mean that was out.

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