Missouri county lacks chief medical examiner, ability to perform autopsies

The future of autopsies is uncertain in Greene County, Mo., after the recent departure of the county's chief medical examiner, who was assigned by the University of Missouri in Columbia, according to the Springfield News-Leader.

No replacement has been named to fill the role, leaving the county's medical examiner's office in Springfield unable to perform autopsies. The county has been shipping the bodies of individuals who died of unusual or suspicious deaths to MU for examination.

The county has held a contract with the University to staff and run the medical examiner's office since 2009. However, the contract will expire in December and not be renewed due to budget constraints.

Forensic Investigator Michelle Waters with Greene County told the News-Leader it's unclear what will happen after the contract expires, adding that shipping bodies to Columbia can create longer waits for autopsy results, which can be frustrating for the families of the deceased.

"It is sometimes unpleasant for the family to wait longer. We hate that it requires that, but there's nothing else we can do," Ms. Waters said. "We hope we can keep providing the best service we can until the pieces fall into place. That's the best we can hope for."

Trysta Herzog, a spokeswoman for the county, told the News-Leader commissioners are considering "all available options" to ensure continued medical examiner services after the MU contract expires.

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