Picture a medical examiner’s (ME) office with a pathologist drunk at a crime scene; two employees posing for photographs with dead bodies; and an employee convicted of paedophilia. This same office was also the source of a tuberculosis outbreak that spread throughout the police department, even infecting the Chief of Police’s wife. Sounds like a TV show, right? Well, it’s all true and it all happened in Upstate NY, where I was a morgue assistant.
In NY state, all suspicious, accidental, or natural but unattended deaths, with no physician willing to sign the death certificate, are sent to the ME. By law, all prisoners, even if hospitalised at the time of death, also must be autopsied by the ME. While states differ, NY law requires a ME to be a pathologist. Furthermore, the ‘crime lab’ is not part of the ME’s office, and the scientists don’t have badges or carry guns. Read more »