The Coroner has the statutory responsibility to determine the cause and manner of death for those deaths under the Coroner's jurisdiction. At times, an autopsy is necessary to help determine the cause of death; and at other times, an autopsy is mandated by state statute. In Peoria County, autopsies are currently performed as soon as possible after death occurs by one of two Board Certified Forensic Pathologists. In 2015, there were 302 autopsies performed.
Following autopsy, the Coroner will share preliminary autopsy findings with the immediate next-of-kin either by phone or email. Most times when an autopsy is performed, toxicology and perhaps other testing is performed; dependent upon the circumstances of the death. Generally speaking, it takes about ten business days to two weeks to receive testing results and another one to two weeks beyond that when the final autopsy report is available unless further comprehensive histology or microbiology testing or a review of medical records is required.
State Statutes 55 ILCS 5/3-3015 and 55 ILCS 5/3-3016 detail the following circumstances under which an autopsy is to be performed:
- Death that is suspicious, obscure, mysterious, or otherwise unexplained
- Death that occurs while being pursued, apprehended, or taken into custody by or while in the custody of law enforcement
- Death of an infant under two years of age who dies suddenly and unexpectedly and the circumstances of the death are unexplained
In Peoria County, an autopsy is performed on all deaths having some criminal circumstance.