The county coroner has many duties related to the handling of an individual's death, whether or not the death was the result of natural causes. The Coroner's Office works in conjunction with the county sheriff, ambulance services, medical facilities, funeral homes, and the family of the deceased.
State statute stipulates the duties and responsibilities of the Coroner's Office.
Identification of the Remains
In a majority of the cases, visual identification is not required. Should it become necessary for you to come in or bring other records or x-rays, you will be contacted.
Viewing of the Remains
The Coroner's facility is not designed to accommodate viewing the remains. Arrangements can be made at the funeral home for viewing.
The Involvement of the County Coroner
State law requires the Coroner to inquire into and determine the circumstances, manner and cause of deaths the death are suspicious, obscure, mysterious, or otherwise unexplained and in the opinion of the examining physician or the coroner the cause of death cannot be established definitely except by autopsy, and where a death has occurred while being pursued, apprehended, or taken into custody by or while in the custody of any law enforcement agency. An autopsy occurs when there is:
- A sudden or violent death, whether apparently suicidal, homicidal or accidental, including but not limited to deaths apparently caused or contributed to by thermal, traumatic, chemical, electrical or radiational injury, or a complication of any of them, or by drowning or suffocation, or as a result of domestic violence as defined in the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986
- A maternal or fetal death due to abortion, or any death due to a sex crime or a crime against nature
- A death where the circumstances are suspicious, obscure, mysterious or otherwise unexplained or where, in the written opinion of the attending physician, the cause of death is not determined
- A death where addiction to alcohol or to any drug may have been a contributory cause; or
- A death where the decedent was not attended by a licensed physician.
The Autopsy Decision
- The Coroner will decide if an autopsy is necessary to establish the cause and circumstances of death. The Coroner may not perform an autopsy if the cause of death can be determined to be from "natural causes" and the deceased has a physician who knows the medical history and will furnish the Coroner with an acceptable probable cause of death.
- The coroner will instruct involved parties that embalming of the body is not to be conducted until the toxicology samples are drawn.
- If the coroner may determine it advisable to exhume a body for the purpose of investigation or autopsy or both.
Tissue and Organ Donation
Illinois law permits corneal removal for transplantation purposes if there is no known objection. With next of kin consent, certain other type of tissues may also be donated and thereby help others. You may be
- Contacted by a tissue collection representative
- Interested in authorizing tissue donation
Call as soon as possible
Release of the Remains
The coroner will try to release the body of the decedent to the decedent's next of kin, personal representative, friends, or to the person designated in writing by the decedent or to the funeral director selected by such persons, as the case may be, for burial.
What should I do right NOW?
As soon as possible, select a funeral home and inform the funeral director that the death is being handled by the Coroner's office. Ask them to notify the coroner - as soon as possible.
The Coroners Office does not select funeral homes nor does it make arrangements. In the event someone is making the arrangements for the family, the Coroner must be provided with written authorization to release the deceased, signed by the legal next of kin. Should he/she reside at a distant location, they may send a FAX directly to our office using this format.
Autopsy Report Availability
You may obtain a copy by calling the Coroner's Office
At that time, you will be informed of the cost of this service and how this document or any Coroner records can be obtained.
The County is required to assess certain fees for transportation and storage. You will receive written correspondence to this effect when and if they apply.
The Death Certificate is filed with the Health Department by the Funeral Director. Should you require certified copies, they can be ordered through the funeral home or they may be purchased from:
- Jackson County Health Department (618-684-3143)
- County Clerk and Recorder (618-687-7360)
Persons who have served in the Armed Forces, were honorably discharged, and meet other service requirements are entitled to a Veteran's burial. For information contact the Veteran's Affairs Office
For information on Military, Veterans or Social Security benefits, contact your Funeral Service Practitioner.
No Available Funds For Burial
If the deceased does not have sufficient funds for burial, the next of kin may apply for County disposition. In these circumstances, proof of indigence is required. The family should contact the Coroner's office at:
Re-Claim Personal Possessions
Any personal possessions in the custody of the Coroner, may be claimed by the legal next of kin. To avoid any inconvenience to you, call before coming into the office.
Clothing is not usually considered property. Unless there is a need to hold clothing as evidence, it is released to the mortuary recovering the deceased. Clothing that presents a health hazard may be disposed of for the safety of all persons involved.
Personal Residence Is Sealed
In order to enter a sealed residence you need to obtain permission from the agency listed on the seal. Call the appropriate office: