When someone dies under unexplained or unexpected circumstances, families can feel fraught with anger and frustration. How could such a thing have happened? When will those responsible be brought to account? While patience may feel like a resource that is impossible to muster at this difficult time, the work of the death investigator is critical to the conviction of the guilty and the protection of the innocent. For true justice to be served, the truth must be brought to light. 

With that in mind, today we are going to look at what the death investigation process involves—because understanding what is happening and why can take some of that distinctly painful bite out of the process. If you are facing such a challenging reality as you read this, hopefully our guide will provide at least a little vital peace of mind.

How a Death Investigator Serves the Bereaved

All too often, when someone dies, the circumstances surrounding the tragedy remain unpleasantly murky. Was it an unfortunate workplace accident or a dreadful case of negligence? What it a wrongful death or a homicide? An accidental overdose or a suicide? These harrowing questions can have dramatic implications for survivors, ranging from whether criminal proceedings might follow to whether a much-needed life insurance policy will pay out.

It is the role of the death investigator to reveal critical facts so that every question mark can be eliminated. At various stages of the the death investigation process, this mantle may be carried by a coroner or medical examiner, a law enforcement officer or agent, or a private investigator tasked with following clues that would otherwise be left to go cold. 

It is important to know that, no matter the conclusions drawn as the investigatory process unfolds, there are always options available to continue pursuit of the truth. The first step, however, is to allow the coroner or medical examiner to do their work—so what exactly does that entail.

The First Stages of the Death Investigation Process

When somebody dies in a way that is unexplained, unexpected, violent, or due to an potentially infectious disease or pathogen, the very first action taken is to investigate the death scene, and this responsibility falls primarily upon the local coroner’s or medical examiner’s office. 

A coroner or medical examiner will make an assessment as to whether police should be involved—if they aren’t already—and will document the scene, taking photographs and gathering evidence. They may also be the ones who track down next of kin to inform them of what has happened. Once this stage of the investigation reaches the appropriate point, they will arrange the removal of the body. 

If it is considered pertinent, the coroner or medical examiner will conduct an examination of the body and potentially also order a post-mortem. A certified forensic pathologist will conduct the post-mortem exam, and may send samples to a lab for analysis in order to reveal more about the cause of death.

Once the coroner or medical examiner is ready to draw a conclusion on the manner of death, they will issue a death certificate. From there, if foul play is suspected, police or federal investigators will continue to investigate circumstances surrounding the death in order to build a case for prosecution and bring potential perpetrators to justice.

As the Death Investigation Process Progresses

If no crime is detected and nothing about the death warrants further investigative intervention by the state, the case of your loved one will be officially closed. If the police investigation evolves into a homicide, negligence, or wrongful death investigation, resources will be applied based on the scope and nature of the crime—hopefully moving towards resolution and the desperately needed answers that survivors are bound to be waiting for.

Unfortunately, at times, those left behind after a death are left feeling underserved by the authorities, dissatisfied with a coroner’s conclusion, or infuriated when the police seem to move onto other cases. If this is your reality, an independent death investigator from a private investigations firm can be the best candidate to pick up pursuit of the facts and right any wrongs that may have occurred along the way.

When investigating a death of any kind, a private investigator from Lauth Investigations International will comb through every piece of information available and roll out every resource in their toolkit to bring to light what others have missed. National licensure means that we can hunt through information databases on a par with those used by law enforcement—gaining insights that would never be available to survivors seeking answers alone. 

By reexamining witnesses, analyzing evidence afresh, and pursuing new physical and digital leads, we can continue to fight for justice on your behalf, whether other avenues are exhausted or ongoing. If your loved one’s case remains open with the police, a private investigator can enter into collaboration with the authorities, bringing fresh eyes and enthusiasm to the search. So, if you require assistance with a death investigation, don’t hesitate to reach out. Our dedicated team are waiting for your call and can give no-commitment guidance on your options. Get in contact today to learn more about how we can help.