Missouri Revised Statutes

Chapter 58
Coroners and Inquests
Section 58.451

August 28, 2014


Death to be reported and investigated by coroner, certain counties, when--place of death, two counties involved, how determined--efforts to accommodate organ donation.

58.451. 1. When any person, in any county in which a coroner is required by section 58.010, dies and there is reasonable ground to believe that such person died as a result of:

(1) Violence by homicide, suicide, or accident;

(2) Criminal abortions, including those self-induced;

(3) Some unforeseen sudden occurrence and the deceased had not been attended by a physician during the thirty-six-hour period preceding the death;

(4) In any unusual or suspicious manner;

(5) Any injury or illness while in the custody of the law or while an inmate in a public institution; the police, sheriff, law enforcement officer or official, or any person having knowledge of such a death shall immediately notify the coroner of the known facts concerning the time, place, manner and circumstances of the death. Immediately upon receipt of notification, the coroner or deputy coroner shall take charge of the dead body and fully investigate the essential facts concerning the medical causes of death, including whether by the act of man, and the manner of death. The coroner or deputy coroner may take the names and addresses of witnesses to the death and shall file this information in the coroner's office. The coroner or deputy coroner shall take possession of all property of value found on the body, making exact inventory of such property on the report and shall direct the return of such property to the person entitled to its custody or possession. The coroner or deputy coroner shall take possession of any object or article which, in the coroner's* or the deputy coroner's opinion, may be useful in establishing the cause of death, and deliver it to the prosecuting attorney of the county.

2. When a death occurs outside a licensed health care facility, the first licensed medical professional or law enforcement official learning of such death shall immediately contact the county coroner. Immediately upon receipt of such notification, the coroner or the coroner's deputy shall make the determination if further investigation is necessary, based on information provided by the individual contacting the coroner, and immediately advise such individual of the coroner's intentions.

3. Upon taking charge of the dead body and before moving the body the coroner shall notify the police department of any city in which the dead body is found, or if the dead body is found in the unincorporated area of a county governed by the provisions of sections 58.451 to 58.457, the coroner shall notify the county sheriff or the highway patrol and cause the body to remain unmoved until the police department, sheriff or the highway patrol has inspected the body and the surrounding circumstances and carefully noted the appearance, the condition and position of the body and recorded every fact and circumstance tending to show the cause and manner of death, with the names and addresses of all known witnesses, and shall subscribe the same and make such record a part of the coroner's report.

4. In any case of sudden, violent or suspicious death after which the body was buried without any investigation or autopsy, the coroner, upon being advised of such facts, may at the coroner's own discretion request that the prosecuting attorney apply for a court order requiring the body to be exhumed.

5. The coroner may certify the cause of death in any case where death occurred without medical attendance or where an attending physician refuses to sign a certificate of death or when a physician is unavailable to sign a certificate of death.

6. When the cause of death is established by the coroner, the coroner shall file a copy of the findings in the coroner's office within thirty days.

7. If on view of the dead body and after personal inquiry into the cause and manner of death, the coroner determines that a further examination is necessary in the public interest, the coroner on the coroner's own authority may make or cause to be made an autopsy on the body. The coroner may on the coroner's own authority employ the services of a pathologist, chemist, or other expert to aid in the examination of the body or of substances supposed to have caused or contributed to death, and if the pathologist, chemist, or other expert is not already employed by the city or county for the discharge of such services, the pathologist, chemist, or other expert shall, upon written authorization of the coroner, be allowed reasonable compensation, payable by the city or county, in the manner provided in section 58.530. The coroner shall, at the time of the autopsy, record or cause to be recorded each fact and circumstance tending to show the condition of the body and the cause and manner of death.

8. If on view of the dead body and after personal inquiry into the cause and manner of death, the coroner considers a further inquiry and examination necessary in the public interest, the coroner shall make out the coroner's warrant directed to the sheriff of the city or county requiring the sheriff forthwith to summon six good and lawful citizens of the county to appear before the coroner, at the time and place expressed in the warrant, and to inquire how and by whom the deceased died.

9. (1) When a person is being transferred from one county to another county for medical treatment and such person dies while being transferred, or dies while being treated in the emergency room of the receiving facility the place which the person is determined to be dead shall be considered the place of death and the county coroner or medical examiner of the county from which the person was originally being transferred shall be responsible for determining the cause and manner of death for the Missouri certificate of death.

(2) The coroner or medical examiner in the county in which the person is determined to be dead may with authorization of the coroner or medical examiner from the original transferring county, investigate and conduct postmortem examinations at the expense of the coroner or medical examiner from the original transferring county. The coroner or medical examiner from the original transferring county shall be responsible for investigating the circumstances of such and completing the Missouri certificate of death. The certificate of death shall be filed in the county where the deceased was pronounced dead.

(3) Such coroner or medical examiner of the county where a person is determined to be dead shall immediately notify the coroner or medical examiner of the county from which the person was originally being transferred of the death of such person, and shall make available information and records obtained for investigation of the death.

(4) If a person does not die while being transferred and is institutionalized as a regularly admitted patient after such transfer and subsequently dies while in such institution, the coroner or medical examiner of the county in which the person is determined to be dead shall immediately notify the coroner or medical examiner of the county from which such person was originally transferred of the death of such person. In such cases, the county in which the deceased was institutionalized shall be considered the place of death. If the manner of death is by homicide, suicide, accident, criminal abortion including those that are self-induced, child fatality, or any unusual or suspicious manner, the investigation of the cause and manner of death shall revert to the county of origin, and this coroner or medical examiner shall be responsible for the Missouri certificate of death. The certificate of death shall be filed in the county where the deceased was pronounced dead.

10. There shall not be any statute of limitations or time limits on the cause of death when death is the final result or determined to be caused by homicide, suicide, accident, child fatality, criminal abortion including those self-induced, or any unusual or suspicious manner. The place of death shall be the place in which the person is determined to be dead. The final investigation of death in determining the cause and matter of death shall revert to the county of origin, and the coroner or medical examiner of such county shall be responsible for the Missouri certificate of death. The certificate of death shall be filed in the county where the deceased was pronounced dead.

11. Except as provided in subsection 9 of this section, if a person dies in one county and the body is subsequently transferred to another county, for burial or other reasons, the county coroner or medical examiner where the death occurred shall be responsible for the certificate of death and for investigating the cause and manner of the death.

12. In performing the duties, the coroner or medical examiner shall comply with sections 58.775 to 58.785 with respect to organ donation.

(L. 1957 p. 334 ยง 1, A.L. 1959 H.B. 396, A.L. 1969 p. 118, A.L. 1973 S.B. 122, A.L. 1983 H.B. 477, A.L. 1986 H.B. 1164, A.L. 1989 S.B. 389, A.L. 1990 H.B. 1416, A.L. 1996 H.B. 811, A.L. 2008 S.B. 1139)

*Word "coroner" appears in original rolls.

CROSS REFERENCES:

Autopsy, consent required, 194.115

Pituitary gland to be retained unless contrary indication by decedent or next of kin, 58.770


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