Thursday, April 13, 2006

Good, not sensational, Office Tours

I have wondered about writing about this topic for some time, but it keeps coming up, questions keep being asked, requests being made, so I decided to plunge ahead.

Tours of the Lake County Coroner’s Office have been taking place for years (although the number has increased over the last year or so). Not only have my staff told me that the tours occurred, but I also get people touring now with groups asking questions based on their previous tour experiences. While our tours now go well, get rave reviews, and generate returns and referrals for other groups to tour, we sometimes “disappoint” expectations based on tours before I took office.

So what disappoints? Some of the “things” no longer included in the tours since I took office:

The body of a young woman murdered in 1999 kept in the freezer until I arranged for her burial after I took office. (Jane Doe recently identified as Mary Kate Sunderlin)

An arm, never identified, kept in the freezer and shown during some tours in the past (the freezer is now empty of all remains and contains only some toxicology specimens)

A skull with a face and scalp “reconstructed” with clay to aid in identifying the young man murdered in 1983. The clay has been removed and the skull will be buried very soon with the young man’s remains that are already buried in cemetery just north of here.

A display of fetuses confiscated from a traveling side show about 30 years ago. (All of the fetuses have been given a proper cemetery burial)

What our tours now lack in sensationalism, they make up for it with education, information and discussion of the history of and role of the Coroner’s Office and the work we do. We are also certain to include in our discussions, information regarding forestalling death and how to avoid “coming into” the office prematurely.

1 comment:

maire said...

Thank you very much for your decision to respectfully handle those remains instead of leaving them for display. For whatever reasons they had been left there for so long by previous coroners, but your choice to "step up" and honor the humanity in the remains causes me (and hopefully others) to hold you in even higher regard.