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Information for law enforcement

Many of the deaths reported to our office are reported by members of law enforcement. Here is what you should know.

Reporting a death

Deaths are reported to our office's Intake Department. You can call our main phone at (617) 262-6767 ext. 1, or fax at (617) 262-6726. Our office takes reports 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

Please provide:

  • Your name, rank, contact number, and your law enforcement agency

  • Location of the death

  • Circumstances of the injury or death

  • If the deceased has decomposed

  • If you are reporting from a local police department, explain whether you notified the state police detective unit

  • The deceased's:

    • Name

    • Date of birth

    • Address

    • Closest legal living relative

    • Medical history, if known

Intake staff will contact a medical examiner. The medical examiner will decide if our office will accept or decline the case.

If our office accepts the case:

  • Our operations desk will be notified.

  • Arrangements will be made to transport the deceased from the scene.

  • You should fax or email all investigative reports of the death.

  • We will decide if we will perform an autopsy. An autopsy is not performed on every accepted case.

If our office declines the case:

  • We have no further involvement in the death.

  • The closest legal living relative is responsible to contact a funeral home for arrangements.

  • If you cannot find or contact the closest legal living relative, contact a funeral home. They will handle removing the deceased from the scene.

  • If there is no closest legal living relative, the funeral director can contact the Department of Transitional Assistance to apply for assistance with the burial.

The Intake department can give you a list of funeral homes who will assist with these cases.

If you are aware of religious considerations that might impact how we examine or release the deceased, you should contact the Intake Department immediately.

Identification

  • Please do not send family members to our office to identify the deceased. In most cases, it's not necessary for family to come to our office for identification.

  • If families have questions about identifying the deceased, refer them to a medical legal investigator at (617) 267-6767 ext 2191.

Reporting bones and tissue

  • Report all known information to the Intake department.

  • You should not bring bones and tissue to our office until directed to do so by a medical examiner or the forensic anthropologist.

Viewing an autopsy

  • If the case is under your department's jurisdiction, you may be able to attend the examination. To attend, notify our operations desk at (617) 267-6767 ext. 2101 as soon as possible after we have accepted the case.

  • We discourage you from attending the examination if you are not directly involved in the investigation.

  • If you want to attend for educational experience, contact the director of operations. We can try to accommodate a trainee's attendance at an examination.

Evidence

  • We may collect evidence during an examination. If the agency of jurisdiction attends the examination, we will sign over the evidence to them at the end of the examination.

  • If the agency of jurisdiction does not attend the examination, we will keep evidence that we collect. We will release the evidence at a later time through our operating procedures.

Requests for examination reports

  • We release completed autopsy reports to the district attorney or authorized law enforcement personnel.

  • Family requests should be referred to our main office phone at (617) 267-6767, or faxed at (617) 266-6763.

  • You can find the cause and manner of deaths you've investigated by contacting our office's paralegal at (617) 267-6767 ext. 2237.

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