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In America, if you’re going to die, especially before your time, it better be by natural causes and not require a whole lot of investigation to support that finding. Because, if your death is the result of foul play but there’s no glaring evidence of blunt force trauma, it’ll probably be through either good luck or powerful connections that it’s ever ruled a homicide.
Why is that? Well, for starters, there are tons of dead bodies piling up out there and a dearth of medical examiners to perform thorough autopsies on them.
It’s also about money.
Expediency in making death determinations is one of the major reasons that the relationship between a local police department and the coroner’s office is so “tight.” Cops are often the first to be called to the scene whenever a corpse is found, and their opinions greatly influence how closely forensic pathologists in turn look at that body once it’s been transported to the morgue and placed on a slab.
If, for instance, a deceased young male is fished out of the river after he vanished from a nearby pub or party, then, unless the lad’s also missing his head or bullet-ridden, his death is almost instantly ruled an “accidental drowning.” This will be true, regardless of how suspicious his initial disappearance might have been, or whether the non-recreational water fatality occurred during a cold-weather month.
Open, shut and certified: “The guy was drunk, went to the water for some fresh air, slipped on a rock, fell in, and died.”
At its best, law enforcement working side by side like this with a medical examiner so to expedite a cause of death is arguably an economical and efficient arrangement which can quickly dispose of those cases where there clearly is “no sign of foul play” involved.
But, at its worst, this coziness presents a situation that’s just rife for corruption and cover ups...