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County’s bill for autopsies tops $10,000

Staff writer

Marion County spent $10,216 in 2019 to have autopsies conducted in Kansas City and Wichita but there is no good alternative, said Karen Selznick, an assistant in Marion County Attorney’s office.

According to Marion County’s 2019 reports, there were three autopsies conducted at Frontier Forensics Midwest in Kansas City, which cost $5,150 between them.

“It’s just something we have to do,” Selznick said. “We’ve recently had a rash of them, but it doesn’t normally work that way.”

Marion County doesn’t just pay for the autopsy, it also has to handle transportation costs, she said.

The county spent $2,156 to transport bodies in 2019.

The lone autopsy that was conducted in Wichita resulted in a higher bill of $2,790.

The county used to have autopsies conducted in Wichita, but changed companies because the forensic there was too busy, Selznick said.

Any time the county coroner requests an autopsy the money comes out of the county attorney’s budget, Selznick said.

“If a family wants to know what killed them, we’re not responsible for that,” she said. “But if a coroner or law enforcement says it’s an unattended death, they almost always want an autopsy.”

While a coroner is used any time a death is caused by an accident, suicide or homicide, the decision to get an autopsy is often based on the circumstances of the death, deputy coroner Don Hodson said.

“If it’s a 42-year-old guy who just drops dead out of the blue, you’re going to do an autopsy,” he said.

While there have been several county attorneys over Selznick’s 24 years in the office, she said the process for investigating a suspicious death remains consistent and expensive.

“The same things are happening,” she said. “It’s just a different person in charge.”

Last modified Jan. 9, 2020

 

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