Reviewing and Comprehending Autopsy Reports
AN OVERVIEW OF DEATH INVESTIGATION
At all death scenes there are two scenes: location(s) of the incident; and the body itself. If a crime is suspected (and all suspicious death investigations are treated as such) the incident will belong to the investigating law enforcement agency; and the body, together with all items on or about it, will belong to the medical examiner’s office. The agencies will work independently of each other with overlapping goals. The death investigator has certain responsibilities and a duty to pursue those responsibilities. Of course there are legal and cooperative exceptions to these based on the greater good of the needs of all investigating agencies, particularly involving possible homicides. The body is exclusively under the custody and control of the death investigator. Until they arrive on scene no other person can touch, move or remove the body, or those items on or about it. The assessment includes complete photography, documenting wounds and injuries, or lack thereof, rigor and livor mortis, body position and relationship to the scene and condition of the body due to postmortem interval and environment.
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