“The cost to the nation in truth, justice, health, and safety is enormous. A people who cannot face death cannot revere life.”
Ramsey Clark; Former Attorney General of the United States
The Douglas County Coroner’s Office extends its deepest sympathy to you during this difficult time. We hope that the information contained herein will assist you by providing answers to commonly asked questions.
Is it necessary for me to come to the coroner’s morgue to identify the body?
Visual identification is not required or permitted. Should it become necessary for you to come in or supply us with other records or x-rays, you will be contacted.
Is viewing allowed?
Because of patient privacy, the Coroner’s office is not in the position to allow viewing. However, we understand your need to be close to your loved one, if you would like to drop off a memento or flowers, or obtain a lock of their hair, please contact our office (303)814-7150. Arrangements can be made at the funeral home of your choice for viewing.
Why is the coroner involved?
State law 30-10-606 CRS requires the Coroner to be notified. Who then inquires into and determines the circumstances, manner and cause of all sudden, violent or unusual deaths and those deaths where a doctor is not in attendance, or is present but unwilling to sign the death certificate. Occasionally, more extensive testing and investigation is required, in which case a pending death certificate is signed which will allow final disposition to take place.
Please explain donation?
There are four types of donation. There is organ donation, tissue donation, forensic donation, and medical donation. Organ and tissue donation are life saving and life enhancing and will not interfere with viewing of your loved one. The red heart ❤ on the Colorado driver’s license will be honored by the Douglas County Coroner’s Office and Donor Alliance. Forensic donation is available for anyone who wants forensic studies to be done on their body. Douglas County Coroner’s Office will make arrangements Mesa University and we will transport the body. Please contact Dr. Melissa Connor at xxx-xxxx. Medical donation should be made in advance, contact the following: Colorado State Anatomical Board (303) 724-0505; Lone Tree Medical Donation (720)-515-9215; Science Care (800) 417-3747;
How long will it take before my relative or friend is released from your office?
Generally the investigation and autopsy, if needed, should be done within 72 hours. Your funeral director will coordinate the release on your behalf or you may contact the office anytime day or night to obtain information of the status of your case.
What information does the coroner need to release the body of my relative or friend?
When the funeral director is meeting with you they will request the legal next-of-kin to sign a written release form providing authorization for the coroner to release the body to that funeral home. When the body is ready for release the Coroner’s Office will notify that funeral home.
My relative or friend was in the military. Who can I contact for information?
Persons who have served in the Armed Forces, were honorably discharged, and met other service requirements may be entitled to some Veteran’s benefits. Your funeral director will have this information.
What if I discover remains?
Skeletal remains, complete or partial, are found in all areas of Colorado. The Coroner is responsible for first determining if the bones are human or animal, and if human, are they ancient, or Native American. The Coroner must follow certain statutory obligations regarding notification of appropriate State agencies. It all begins with calling 911.
If there are no funds for burial, what can I do?
If the decedent does not have sufficient funds for burial, the next-of-kin may seek assistance from government and non-government sources. The Public Administrator 303-355-8500 can aid in finding available funds. Douglas County Burial Assistance 303-688-4825 is also a source for potential funding.
How and when can personal possessions be claimed?
Depending upon the manner of death, it will depend on who will handle personal property. If a crime has been committed, contact the associated law enforcement agency. If a letter of intent (suicide note) was discovered, contact the Coroner’s Office 303-814-7150. If a vehicle is involved, contact the involved law enforcement agency. All clothing and other property will be released through the funeral home. Prescribed medication is never released to family.
I need to enter my relative’s or friend’s residence, but it is sealed. What can I do?
In order to enter you need to obtain permission from the legal next of kin. Contact the Coroner’s office 303-814-7150 and we will contact the family for you.
Both the Douglas County Coroner’s Office and the law enforcement agency oversee the death investigation. Douglas County Coroner’s Office is charged with death certificate, which includes cause and manner of death (homicide, suicide, accident, natural or undetermined). However, there is a division: The Coroner’s Investigators are trained for the purposes of public health and not criminalistics, and law enforcement is trained in criminalistics and not medicine. Both will be present at the death scene, and both will have the legal right and responsibility to ask questions and investigate.
The Coroner’s Office Investigators are certified Medicolegal Death Investigators (MDI). We are certified as sworn deputies with the state of Colorado and certified at the national level with the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators.
If the manner of death is suicide and natural death, call the Coroner’s Office, if it is homicide call the law enforcement jurisdiction, if it is accidental, both offices are subject to outside expert insights, so, please call the Coroner’s Office at 303-814-7150 for direction.
Unless the manner of death is being treated as a homicide, call the Coroner’s Office 303-814-7150, and they will direct you to property and evidence concerns.