Coroner: Richard A. Jorgensen, MD, FACS
Welcome to the DuPage County, Illinois Coroner's Office Website
Welcome to the web pages of the DuPage County Coroner Office. Our office is located in the County Governmental Complex in Wheaton, the county seat and geographical center of DuPage County, Illinois. DuPage County occupies approximately 350 square miles, has a population of 904,161 (2010 Census) and is approximately 30 miles west of Chicago. DuPage County enjoys a reputation as an excellent place to live, raise a family and work.
Office of the Coroner
The Coroner is an elected county wide official serving for a four year term. The Coroner's office is a law enforcement agency, which, as part of the system of checks and balances, investigates the cause and manner of deaths that occur in the county. The office and its duties and powers descend from ancient British common law. In Illinois the main statutes governing the office are mainly found in the Illinois Compiled Statutes Chapter 55 (The Coroners Act). Click here (LINK TO CORONER'S ACT) for a more thorough discussion of these laws.
Role of the Coroner
The DuPage County Coroner's Office investigates all deaths occurring in DuPage County. The CORONERS CREED (LINK TO CORONER'S CREED) and the CORONER'S ACT(LINK TO CORONER'S ACT) establishes questions that must be answered to fulfill the requirements of these investigations. These questions are: who, how, where, when, and why are the facts concerning the decedents death? Based on investigation of decedents' death, the findings of the autopsy or toxicology results, the cause and manner of death are usually determined. We seek to provide care and justice for the deceased and for the family and friends of the deceased.
The DuPage County Coroner's Office exists to serve the community by providing timely Medico-Legal death investigations in a professional and courteous manner, while ensuring the highest level of compassion, dignity and respect for the deceased and their families.
CRITICAL QUESTIONS ADDRESSED:
Who is the deceased?
This can be answered by looking at identification found on the deceased or through verification by family members or friends. When identification of an individual is unable to be determined, DNA can be tested to determine identity. Dental records can also be compared to the deceased when possible.
How did the deceased die?
This question can be answered by determining the circumstances of death. This is different than why a person died in that it does not provide the medical explanation for death. For example, an accident may be how a person died, but head trauma would explain the reason why death occurred.
Where was the deceased found?
This question can be answered by the person who found the deceased or by officers called to the scene. It is important to know the location and position of the body as well as the condition of the surrounding area.
Where did the deceased die?
While the answer to this question will typically be the same as the answer to the above question, a difference will exist in cases where the deceased has been moved. It is important to know the location of death in order to look for evidence of how, why, or when death occurred.
When did death occur?
This may be answered by determining when the deceased was last seen and how much time has passed since that time. This provides a frame within which death must have occurred. Determining the actual time of death, however, is very difficult to do. As a result, while an approximate time of death can be determined by asking the previous questions, the time of death as recorded by the Coroner's Office is the time at which death is confirmed upon responding to a call.
Why did the deceased die?
This question asks why a person died in a given situation. As explained in the question of how above, the answer to why a person died will be the particular medical reason for death. In an accident, for example, head trauma would explain the reason why death occurred. In other words, the question of why can be answered by determining the particular cause of death. Determining the medical history of the deceased can also provide insight into why a person died. It is also important to know what medications were in the possession of the deceased at the time of death. Why a person died may, but not always, be determined through autopsy and toxicology tests and further investigation.
What is the manner of death?
While the Coroner's Office does not investigate legal matters concerning death, the manner of death may be apparent through determining why a person has died. Based on autopsy or toxicology findings, it may be determined that a person died by homicide, suicide, accidental death, natural death, or an undetermined manner of death.
The Coroner is obligated and empowered by law to investigate the cause and manner of all deaths occurring in DuPage County. Click here to link to (55 ILCS 5/3-3013) for a more thorough description of the cases typically investigated by this office. The Coroner is obligated and empowered by law to investigate the cause and manner of all deaths occurring in DuPage County.
The Coroner’s Office serving DuPage County is committed to providing the citizens of DuPage County the most professional death investigations falling under its jurisdiction. We perform all of our own investigations, review toxicology, perform autopsies and histology by forensic pathologists on the premises. The coroner’s office investigates or reviews nearly 4500 deaths during the year.
In the following pages, we hope you will find useful information about the services, education and research efforts of the Coroner's Office as well as collected data on our cases and important links. If you do not find the information you need or have further questions please email or call our office.
Richard A. Jorgensen, MD FACS
Coroner of DuPage County