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In observance of Memorial Day, County offices will be closed Monday, May 30. For online services, visit our web page.

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Coroner

Douglas County Coroner's Office

Did you know that every day in Douglas County – at all hours of the day and night – the Coroner can be called to a scene of unfortunate circumstances – for a death that is expected, unattended, violent, sudden or suspicious?

The Coroner’s Office is a statutory office, which is mandated to establish the cause and manner of death in compliance with Colorado Revised Statute 30-10-601 through 30-10-622, and has four main responsibilities:  establish manner and cause of death, and legal identification and notification.  This office supports public health and prevention. The Douglas County Coroner is Jill Romann.  For further statistical insight, the Coroner’s Office provides annual reports.

 

The investigation of a death by the Coroner’s Office is an important function as it is done by an independent agency who does not work for the law enforcement agency, the physician, the nursing home, the hospital, the prosecution or the defense, but works on behalf of the deceased to obtain the truth about their death.  At the conclusion of a death investigation, the Coroner signs a death certificate and issues an autopsy report.  To request an autopsy report please email [email protected].

Do you, a loved one or someone else need suicide prevention resources? Please visit www.colorado.gov/cdphe/categories/services-and-information/health/prevention-and-wellness/suicide-prevention

As of 2021, Douglas County Coroner’s Office is accredited by the International Association of Coroner & Medical Examiners.

How do I obtain an autopsy report

[email protected]

Responsibilities

Legal Identification

On the surface, this may seem simple, but the Coroner’s Office must rely on more than just paperwork (which may be stolen or forged) to establish the decedent’s identity. Most legal identification comes from medicine. Identification methods may include: body description, medical records, medical implants and appliances, surgical / radiology comparison, healed trauma, fingerprint comparison, DNA, dental records (odontology), and anthropology. The Douglas County Coroner’s Office does not use law enforcement resources for fingerprint comparisons; the MDI’s are trained and certified in fingerprint comparison. Legal identification includes physical anthropology. When exposed bones are discovered, it is the responsibility of the Coroner’s Office to identify human verses non-human remains, and if humans, who they are and why the bones were left in that environment. The “Why” is a task fully embraced in joint decision-making with law enforcement.

Establishing Cause of Death

The Coroner’s Office is also responsible for determining the cause of death. Many citizens believe that the Forensic Pathologist is the only person that establishes cause of death. However, the majority of deaths in Douglas County don’t require an autopsy and for those that do, the autopsy findings are only part of the investigation. According to the National Association of Medical Examiner’s (NAME), a well-run office should autopsy somewhere between 10-13% of all reported cases. The other 87-90% of the reported cases work out cause of death by the highly trained Medicolegal Death Investigators (MDI) reviewing existing medical records, consulting with outside physicians and deducing facts based on their education, training and experience.

Establishing Manner of Death

The need to assign responsibility for human death is without doubt older than history and has found expression in both religious and judicial language. However, the profession today has agreed upon a four-part classification scheme based on long-standing principles: Natural, Accident, Suicide and Homicide. When a reasonable classification cannot be made, undetermined is used. Most people believe that assigning a manner of death is straight forward, yet nationwide there are countless deaths whose manner of death are hotly contested.

Legal Notification

Notification of death is heart retching and, while the decedent may have many loved ones in their life, “legal notification” requires identifying who is legally related to the decedent and who is the legal next of kin. This process can be complicated when states like Colorado have a “Common Law marital standing”, a status which is frequently debated within families and civil court proceedings. When the Death Certificate is issued by the Coroner, the marital standing is important. It is the Coroner’s responsibility to make sure the death notification is completed. In Douglas County, the Coroner’s Office staff personally makes all death notifications supporting the family through the grieving process.

Budget / Accountability

Thanks to the hard work and dedication by the Douglas County Coroner's Office focusing on fiscal responsibility and conservative oversight, DCCO continues to operate under they most efficient budget year over year in Douglas County's history. This was a top priority throughout Coroner Romann's administration carried out daily by all staff members. For further budgetary information, please visit the Coroner's Office annual reports.