Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- What should I do following the loss of a loved one?
We understand that this is a difficult time for you and your family. We are here to help you. Here are the steps to provide your loved one a proper burial or cremation.
- Meet with and notify other family.
- Look for a will or document(s) that might have specific instructions on how to proceed.
- Choose and meet with a funeral home.
- Contact banks, insurance companies, pension boards, and your workplace.
- When to report a death?
Below are specific circumstances of deaths that require notification of the Coroner’s Office. Note this is not a comprehensive list and you should report the death if you are unsure if it meets the criteria.
You should always call 911 if you find a deceased person, regardless of whether or not the death meets these criteria. The only exception is in the case of a death occuring within a hospital or healthcare facility.
If you are in a hospital or healthcare facility, please contact the Coroner’s Office at 765-420-7607. If it is after normal business hours (8:00 AM - 4:30 PM, Mon. - Fri.), a weekend, or a holiday, please contact the Tippecanoe County Sheriff’s Department at 765-423-9321 and ask to speak to the on-call Deputy Coroner.
A death should be reported under any of the following cases:
• Not currently in the care of a physician or practitioner
• Suspicious or unusual circumstances
• Non-natural incidents
• Accidental death
• Suspected illicit or prescription drug intoxication
• Recent major surgery
• Recent trauma or injury
• Recent fall
• Less than 18 years of age
• Incarcerated individuals
• Wards of the State
• Active-duty military members
- Does every death involve the Coroner's Office?
No. The Tippecanoe County Coroner's Office has jurisdiction over all deaths that occur in Tippecanoe County that are suspicious, unusual or unnatural. Most of the time, these include homicides, suicides, accidents, child deaths, active duty servicemember deaths, deaths of persons who are incarcerated/in custody, unwitnessed deaths, occupational deaths, deaths where a cause and manner cannot reasonably be obtained, and deaths that are a known or suspected threat to the public at-large. The Coroner may also be involved in natural deaths that were unattended by a physician. The jurisdiction for all Coroners in Indiana comes from Indiana Code 36-2-14.
- Does the Coroner's Office provide all death certificates?
No. Death certificates are the responsibility of the Vital Records Division of the Tippecanoe County Health Department. The Coroner will sign the death certificate for accepted Coroner cases and then turn the death certificate over to the Tippecanoe County Health Department for completion. To obtain a death certificate, please visit the Tippecanoe County Health Department - Vital Records Division.
- Is the Coroner a physician?
As an elected official to a constitutional office, the legal requirements are that the individual be a resident of the county for a least one year. The Coroner serves the role of an administrator of death investigations. The State of Indiana has a Coroner system, not a medical examiner system. However, the Coroner and his/her deputies are required to attend a basic 40-hour medicolegal death investigation course.
- Are there educational requirements for Coroners and Deputy Coroners?
Yes. The Indiana State Coroner's Association provides the mandatory training course. This course includes at least 40 hours of classroom instruction regarding death investigation, crime scenes and preservation of evidence. Sixteen hours of continuing education are required annually. Coroners have six months to complete the training once elected. Deputy Coroners have twelve months to complete training once appointed. Indiana was a pilot state for Coroners and Deputy Coroners to be certified.
- What is the Coroner responsible for?
The Coroner is responsible for identification of the deceased, determination of the cause of death and manner of death. In the process of doing his/her job, the Coroner is considered an officer of the court with the power to investigate the death, subpoena information/persons and order an autopsy . The Coroner is also responsible for the personal property of the deceased.
- Can the cause and manner of death be kept confidential?
The Coroner is obligated to release certain information regarding each accepted Coroner's case, including the cause and manner of death. Demographic information is considered public, such as name, age, race and address of deceased. Limited information regarding an autopsy will be released, such as date, and the board certified pathologist (medical physician) who performed it, where performed. The Coroner can only release records produced in the process of the investigation. Records of other agencies, such as police records or medical records gathered in the investigation are not released by the Coroner.
- How long does it take to determine the cause of death?
In the age of television, sometimes it is thought that investigations can take 60 minutes or less. However, it generally takes 6-8 weeks of thorough investigation to establish a cause and manner of death. Part of these investigations include interviewing witnesses, reviewing medical records, consulting with our law enforcement partners, performing autopsies and other related tests, and searching for all of the facts so we can provide family members with the closure they desire.