SECOND REGULAR SESSION
HOUSE BILL NO. 1289
92ND GENERAL ASSEMBLY
INTRODUCED BY REPRESENTATIVE COOPER (120).
Read 1st time January 28, 2004, and copies ordered printed.
STEPHEN S. DAVIS, Chief Clerk
To repeal section 58.451, RSMo, and to enact in lieu thereof one new section relating to
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the state of Missouri, as follows:
Section A. Section 58.451, RSMo, is repealed and one new section enacted in lieu
thereof, to be known as section 58.451, to read as follows:
58.451. 1. When any person, in any county in which a coroner is required by section
58.010, dies and there is reasonable ground to believe that such person died as a result of:
(1) Violence by homicide, suicide, or accident;
(2) Criminal abortions, including those self-induced;
(3) Some unforeseen sudden occurrence and the deceased had not been attended by a
physician during the thirty-six-hour period preceding the death;
(4) In any unusual or suspicious manner;
(5) Any injury or illness while in the custody of the law or while an inmate in a public
institution; the police, sheriff, law enforcement officer or official, or any person having
knowledge of such a death shall immediately notify the coroner of the known facts concerning
the time, place, manner and circumstances of the death. Immediately upon receipt of
notification, the coroner or [his] the coroner's deputy shall take charge of the dead body and
fully investigate the essential facts concerning the medical causes of death, including whether
by the act of man, and the manner of death. [He] The coroner may take the names and
addresses of witnesses to the death and shall file this information in [his] the coroner's office.
The coroner or [his] the coroner's deputy shall take possession of all property of value found
on the body, making exact inventory of such property on [his] the report and shall direct the
return of such property to the person entitled to its custody or possession. The coroner or [his]
the coroner's deputy shall take possession of any object or article which, in [his] the coroner's
opinion, may be useful in establishing the cause of death, and deliver it to the prosecuting
attorney of the county.
2. When a death occurs outside a licensed health care facility, the first licensed medical
professional or law enforcement official learning of such death shall contact the county coroner.
Immediately upon receipt of such notification, the coroner or the coroner's deputy shall make the
determination if further investigation is necessary, based on information provided by the
individual contacting the coroner, and immediately advise such individual of the coroner's
3. Upon taking charge of the dead body and before moving the body the coroner shall
notify the police department of any city in which the dead body is found, or if the dead body is
found in the unincorporated area of a county governed by the provisions of sections 58.451 to
58.457, the coroner shall notify the county sheriff [and] or the highway patrol and cause the body
to remain unmoved until the police department, sheriff or the highway patrol has inspected the
body and the surrounding circumstances and carefully noted the appearance, the condition and
position of the body and recorded every fact and circumstance tending to show the cause and
manner of death, with the names and addresses of all known witnesses, and shall subscribe the
same and make such record a part of [his] the coroner's report.
4. In any case of sudden, violent or suspicious death after which the body was buried
without any investigation or autopsy, the coroner, upon being advised of such facts, may at [his]
the coroner's own discretion request that the prosecuting attorney apply for a court order
requiring the body to be exhumed.
5. The coroner shall certify the cause of death in any case under [his] the coroner's
charge when a physician is unavailable to sign a certificate of death.
6. When the cause of death is established by the coroner, [he] the coroner shall file a
copy of [his] the findings in [his] the coroner's office within thirty days.
7. If on view of the dead body and after personal inquiry into the cause and manner of
death, the coroner determines that a further examination is necessary in the public interest, the
coroner on [his] the coroner's own authority may make or cause to be made an autopsy on the
body. The coroner may on [his] the coroner's own authority employ the services of a
pathologist, chemist, or other expert to aid in the examination of the body or of substances
supposed to have caused or contributed to death, and if the pathologist, chemist, or other expert
is not already employed by the city or county for the discharge of such services, [he] the
pathologist, chemist, or other expert shall, upon written authorization of the coroner, be
allowed reasonable compensation, payable by the city or county, in the manner provided in
section 58.530. The coroner shall, at the time of the autopsy, record or cause to be recorded each
fact and circumstance tending to show the condition of the body and the cause and manner of
8. If on view of the dead body and after personal inquiry into the cause and manner of
death, the coroner considers a further inquiry and examination necessary in the public interest,
[he] the coroner shall make out [his] the coroner's warrant directed to the sheriff of the city or
county requiring [him] the sheriff forthwith to summon six good and lawful citizens of the
county to appear before the coroner, at the time and place expressed in the warrant, and to inquire
how and by whom the deceased [came to his death] died.
9. When a person is being transferred from one county to another county or into the
state for medical treatment and such person dies while being transferred, or dies while being
treated in the emergency room of the receiving facility, the county or state from which the
person is first removed shall be considered the place of death and the county coroner or medical
examiner of the county from which the person was being transferred shall be responsible for the
certificate of death and for investigating the cause and manner of the death. [If] The coroner or
medical examiner in the county in which the person [died believes that further investigation is
warranted and a postmortem examination is needed, such coroner or medical examiner shall have
the right to further investigate and perform the postmortem examination] is determined to be
dead may with authorization of the coroner or medical examiner from the transferring
county investigate and conduct postmortem examinations at the expense of [such] the
coroner or medical examiner [and] from the transferring county. The coroner or medical
examiner from the transferring county shall be responsible for the certificate of death and for
investigating the cause and manner of the death. [Such] A coroner [or], medical examiner, or
the emergency room staff from the county where a person is determined to be dead shall
immediately notify the coroner or medical examiner of the county from which the person was
being transferred of the death of such person and [after an investigation is completed shall notify
such coroner or medical examiner of his findings] shall make available information and
records necessary for investigation of the death. If a person does not die while being
transferred and is institutionalized as a regularly admitted patient after such transfer and
subsequently dies while in such institution, the coroner [or], medical examiner, or medical
facility of the county in which the person [dies] is determined to be dead shall immediately
notify the coroner or medical examiner of the county from which such person was transferred
of the death of such person. In such cases, the county in which the deceased was
institutionalized shall be considered the place of death. In the case of death by homicide,
suicide, child fatality, or any unusual or suspicious manner, the investigation of the cause
and manner of death shall revert to the county of origin.
10. Except as provided in subsection 9 of this section, if a person dies in one county and
[his] the body is subsequently transferred to another county or state for burial or other
reasons, the county coroner or medical examiner where the death occurred shall be responsible
for the certificate of death and for investigating the cause and manner of the death.
11. In performing [his] the duties of the office, the coroner or medical examiner shall
make reasonable efforts to accommodate organ donation.