There are a number of reasons autopsies are performed. However, the basic reasons are to determine the medical cause of death and to gather evidence for presentation in a court of law.
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Any viewing or visitation is done at the mortuary and is not permitted at the forensic facilities.
The deceased is being removed to our Perris Forensic Center or Indio Forensic Center, depending on the geographical area where the death occurred.
Not always. If the deceased has been under the care of a physician who can provide this office with the medical cause of death, the Sheriff-Coroner may waive the autopsy. In certain cases of natural death where the deceased had no physician, or in the case of a traumatic death where the cause of death is obvious, we may elect to do only an external examination of the body.
The autopsy itself is done in such a manner as to allow viewing without seeing evidence of the examination. Length of time since death, the condition of the remains (e.g. major head injury) and the policy of the funeral home determine if viewing the remains can occur. The Coroner's Bureau does not embalm.
Normally we try to release the decedent to a funeral home within two to three days. Depending on the circumstances of the death, and confirming identification, sometimes it is necessary to keep the remains longer.
In the next day or two, you should select the mortuary or cremation service that you will utilize for final arrangements. If you do not know of one, we suggest using the yellow pages and calling a few. We cannot recommend any to you.
If the deceased had personal property in his/her possession other than articles of clothing, an appointment must be made in order for the next of kin to obtain the property from us. Please call the bureau in the area where the death occurred. Articles of clothing are only released with the remains to your mortuary.
We make every attempt to complete our initial investigation within 72 hours from the time the death is reported to us. You should not wait to begin making funeral arrangements. The mortuary staff will coordinate the release of the remains with our forensic center.
We will complete a portion of the certificate of death to include the date and time of death, place of death and the cause of death. When death is caused by an injury, we provide the injury information. The certificate of death is transferred electronically through the statewide Electronic Death Registration System (EDRS) to the funeral home and their staff completes the document before it is filed with the Health Department.
The funeral home will order as many copies as you may require. The mortuary or cremation service staff will order death certificates for you. The death certificate is issued by the county health department.
You are welcome to contact us. For non-emergencies and matters that do not require immediate attention, inquires should be made between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m, Monday through Friday. The offices are closed on all county holidays.
It is not uncommon for this to happen. If the cause of death is listed as "pending", it is because we have to do further testing on tissue and body fluid samples that are retained during the autopsy. This does not delay the release of the body for burial or cremation, however, you can expect that the cause of death will be pending for approximately 12 weeks.
If you are in need of death certificates for legal matters other than life insurance you can order copies with the cause of death pending. Please speak to your mortuary or cremation service staff about ordering them.
There is no charge for an autopsy when it is done as part of the Coroner's investigation. Government Code Section 27472 authorizes the Coroner to recover transportation and storage costs.
Requests for public record information about a decedent (Coroner's Packet) should be made in writing to the Coroner's Office. Send a letter that includes the following:
Reports will be mailed as soon as they are ready. Please call our office at 951-443-2300 with any questions.
It is the responsibility of the Coroner’s Bureau to locate and notify family members on any homeless person’s death regardless of the cause. In most cases, every reasonable attempt is made to notify family members in person. If a family member lives outside of Riverside County, a request is made to the local coroner/medical examiner or law enforcement agency having jurisdiction where the family lives to respond to their location and notify them of the death.
The Coroner’s Bureau issues unidentified cases a unique “Unidentified” number, which is updated to the decedent’s names when and if the identification is made. Some cases cannot be identified by forensic or scientific means. Long term unidentified decedents are referred to the Public Administrator’s Bureau of the Sheriff's Office for disposition of their remains. Remains of unidentified decedents are buried at a contracted cemetery only after all means to identify the decedent have been explored. The Coroner’s Bureau publishes information on their website on all long-term unidentified cases.
All deaths of unidentified persons are reported to the Coroner’s Bureau, who will take possession of the decedent for purposes of determining their identity and to locate and notify their legal next-of-kin. Identification is made by photo comparison, fingerprints, dental charting and comparison, unique physiological or surgical features (prior fractures, surgical implanted devices, skeletal structures), or by DNA analysis.