Non-Homicide Scene Investigation | Print |

Following the report of a death, a Medical Examiner Investigator will respond to the scene when the nature of death requires a response. The person who notified the FCMEO will be instructed that the body and its immediate surroundings should remain undisturbed until the Medical Examiner Investigator's arrival at the scene. Any disruption of the scene or movement of the body must be reported to the Medical Examiner Investigator upon his or her arrival. If tentative identification of the deceased is absolutely necessary by law enforcement officers prior to notifying the Medical Examiner, they may take possession of the wallet or purse. Law enforcement officers then will be responsible for the property and document contents on a property form and place the property into evidence until the next-of-kin takes possession.

The Medical Examiner Investigator's responsibilities at the scene of death are primarily: (1) determining the circumstances surrounding death; (2) collection, documentation and safe-keeping of property and potential evidence which is on the body or in its immediate surroundings; (3) notification of the death to the next-of-kin if such notification is not performed by the law enforcement agency; and (4) controlling the proper removal of the body from the death scene.

In cases of apparent suicide, the Medical Examiner Investigator will take possession of any suicide note, and often, the instrument of death if not taken by law enforcement. Wherein a question exists as to whether a death resulted from a suicide or homicide, it will be investigated as a homicide and the law enforcement agency will usually take custody of relevant physical evidence. The Medical Examiner Investigator, in general, does not search the body or the premises without a witness being present. Law enforcement officers may be asked to witness the search and sign relevant documents as a witness to the items taken into custody by the Medical Examiner Investigator.

In some deaths, a medical examiner may also be present at the scene in addition to the medical examiner investigator.