Illinois Compiled Statutes: Chapter 55
Role of the coroner
The Kankakee County Coroner's Office investigates all deaths occurring in Kankakee County.
THE FOLLOWING ARE SUMMARIES OF THE LAWS EMPOWERING AND GOVERNING THE CORONERS OFFICE
Coroner's Act Statutes and Legal Jurisdiction:
The statutes describing the obligations, authority and jurisdiction of the County Coroner office is documented in the Illinois Compiled Statutes: Chapter 55 (The Coroners Act)
(55 ILCS 5/3-3003)
Sec. 3-3003. Duties of coroner.
The county coroner shall control the internal operations of his office.
(55 ILCS 5/3-3007)
Sec. 3-3007. Conservator of the peace.
Each coroner shall be conservator of the peace in his county, and, in the performance of his duties as such, shall have the same powers as the sheriff.
The Kankakee County Coroner's Office is mandated by Statue to investigate the cause and manner of death of any dead body within the borders of the county when the circumstances of the death indicate any of the following:
(55 ILCS 5/3-3013)
Sec. 3-3013. Preliminary investigations
Every coroner, whenever, as soon as he knows or is informed that the dead body of any person is found, or lying within his county, whose death is suspected of being:
A. A sudden or violent death, whether apparently suicidal, homicidal, or accidental, including but not limited to deaths apparently caused or contributed to by thermal, traumatic, chemical, electrical or radiational injury, or a complication of any of them, or by drowning or suffocation, or as a result of domestic violence as defined in the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986;
B. Any death due to a sex crime or a crime against nature including criminal or self-induced abortions and stillborn infants where there is a suspicion of illegal interference
C. A death where the circumstances are suspicious, obscure, mysterious or otherwise unexplained.
D. A death where addiction to alcohol or to any drug may have been a contributory cause.
E. A death where the decedent was not attended by a licensed physician within the past 72-hours or death occurs within 24 hours of admission to a hospital (unless the patient has been under continuous care of a physician for a natural disease which is responsible for death)
F. A death on the operating table or prior to recovery from anesthesia
G. All deaths in any State institution
H. All deaths of wards of the State in a private care facility or in programs funded by the Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, the Illinois Department of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, or the Department of Children and Family Services.
I. All deaths occurring while being pursued, apprehended, or taken into custody of any law enforcement agency.
J. Any death of a fireman who dies within 30 days of working a fire.
K. All deaths arising from employment including industrial poisonings from absorption and/or inhalation
L. All hospice deaths.
M. All human skeletal remains including bones and decomposed fleshy parts of a deceased human body including grave artifacts.
shall go to the place where the dead body is, and take charge of the same and shall make a preliminary investigation into the circumstances of the death.
In the case of death without attendance by a licensed physician the body may be moved with the coroner's consent from the place of death to a mortuary in the same county.
Coroners in their discretion shall notify such physician as is designated in accordance with Section 3-3014 to attempt to ascertain the cause of death, either by autopsy or otherwise.
All deaths in State institutions and all deaths of wards of the State in private care facilities shall be reported to the coroner of the county in which the facility is located.
(Source: P.A. 95-484, eff. 6-1-08; 96-1059, eff. 7-14-10.)
(55 ILCS 5/3-3014)
Sec. 3-3014. Autopsy to be performed by licensed physician
Any medical examination or autopsy conducted pursuant to this Division shall be performed by a physician duly licensed to practice medicine in all of its branches, and wherever possible by one having special training in pathology. No coroner may perform any autopsy required or authorized by law unless the coroner is a pathologist whose services are requested by the coroner of another county.
(Source: P.A. 86-962; 87-317.)
(55 ILCS 5/3-3015)
Sec. 3-3015. Circumstances under which autopsy to be performed.
(a) Where a death has occurred and the circumstances concerning the death are suspicious, obscure, mysterious, or otherwise unexplained and in the opinion of the examining physician or the coroner the cause of death cannot be established definitely except by autopsy, and where a death has occurred while being pursued, apprehended, or taken into custody by or while in the custody of any law enforcement agency, it is declared that the public interest requires that an autopsy be performed, and it shall be the duty and responsibility of the coroner to cause an autopsy to be performed, including the taking of x-rays and the performance of other medical tests as the coroner deems appropriate.
(b) If a child dies from suspicious or unexplained circumstances, the coroner shall secure the services of a pathologist.
(Source: P.A. 86-962; 87-317; 87-419; 87-895.)
(55 ILCS 5/3-3016)
Sec. 3-3016. Sudden infant death syndrome.
Where an infant under 2 years of age has died suddenly and unexpectedly and the circumstances concerning the death are unexplained, an autopsy shall be performed by a physician licensed to practice medicine in all of its branches who has special training in pathology.
(Source: P.A. 86-962.)
(55 ILCS 5/3-3017)
Sec. 3-3017. Cremation.
In any death where the remains are to be cremated, it shall be the duty of the funeral director or person having custody of the dead body to obtain from the coroner a permit to cremate the body. The coroner's permit to cremate shall be presented to the local registrar in applying for the Permit for Disposition of Dead Human Body provided for in Section 21 of the Vital Records Act, and the local registrar shall attach the coroner's permit to cremate to the Permit for Disposition of Dead Human Body which is issued. No crematory shall cremate a dead human body unless a Permit for Disposition of Dead Human Body with an attached coroner's permit to cremate has been furnished to authorize the cremation.
(Source: P.A. 86-962; 86-1028; 87-895.)
(55 ILCS 5/3-3018)
Sec. 3-3018. Death certificates.
Every coroner, as soon as he shall have completed his investigation of the cause and circumstances of any death coming within his jurisdiction hereunder, shall issue a death certificate on the form prescribed by law.
(Source: P.A. 86-962.)
(55 ILCS 5/3-3019)
Sec. 3-3019. Removal of bodies; violation.
No dead body which may be subject to the terms of this Division, or the personal property of such a deceased person, shall be handled, moved, disturbed, embalmed or removed from the place of death by any person, except with the permission of the coroner, unless the same shall be necessary to protect such body or property from damage or destruction, or unless necessary to protect life, safety, or health. Any person knowingly violating the provisions of this Section is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.
(Source: P.A. 86-962.)
(55 ILCS 5/3-3020)
Sec. 3-3020. Coroner to be notified; violation.
Every law enforcement official, funeral director, ambulance attendant, hospital director or administrator or person having custody of the body of a deceased person, where the death is one subject to investigation under Section 3-3013, and any physician in attendance upon such a decedent at the time of his death, shall notify the coroner promptly. Any such person failing to so notify the coroner promptly shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, unless such person has reasonable cause to believe that the coroner had already been so notified.
(Source: P.A. 86-962.)
(55 ILCS 5/3-3021)
Sec. 3-3021. Public policy; release of body to next of kin.
That as soon as may be consistent with the performance of his duties under this Division the coroner shall release the body of the decedent to the decedent's next of kin, personal representative, friends, or to the person designated in writing by the decedent or to the funeral director selected by such persons, as the case may be, for burial, and none of the duties or powers of coroners enumerated in this Division shall be construed to interfere with or control the right of such persons to the custody and burial of the decedent upon completion of the coroner's investigation.
(Source: P.A. 86-962.)
(55 ILCS 5/3-3033)
Sec. 3-3033. Disposition of property.
When any valuable personal property, money or papers, are found upon or near the body which is the subject of a coroner's investigation, inquiry or inquest, the coroner shall take charge of the same and deliver the same to those entitled to its care or possession;
(Source: P.A. 86-962.)
(55 ILCS 5/3-3034)
Sec. 3-3034. Disposition of body.
After the inquest the coroner may deliver the body or human remains of the deceased to the family of the deceased or, if there are no family members to accept the body or the remains, then to friends of the deceased, if there be any, but if not, the coroner shall cause the body or the remains to be decently buried, cremated, or donated for medical science purposes, the expenses to be paid from the property of the deceased
(Source: P.A. 96-1339, eff. 7-27-10; 97-679, eff. 2-6-12.)
(55 ILCS 5/3-3037)
Sec. 3-3037. Embalming dead body.
No licensed embalmer or person shall embalm the dead body of any person with, or inject therein, or place thereon any fluid or preparation of any kind before obtaining permission from the coroner where such body is the subject of a coroner's inquest. Any person who shall violate the provision of this Section commits a business offense and shall be fined not exceeding $5,000.
(Source: P.A. 86-962.)
(55 ILCS 5/3-3040)
Sec. 3-3040. Appointment of deputies.
Each coroner may appoint one or more deputies as the coroner, in his or her sole discretion
(Source: P.A. 88-281.)
Sec. 3-3042. Duties of deputies.
Deputy coroners, duly appointed and qualified, may perform any and all of the duties of the coroner in the name of the coroner, and the acts of such deputies shall be held to be acts of the coroner.
(Source: P.A. 91-357, eff. 7-29-99.)
The Coroner's Creed establishes questions that must be answered to fulfill the requirements of these investigations, as well as provide care and justice for the deceased and for the family and friends of the deceased. These questions are: who, how, where, when, and why?
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 can 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 can ultimately be determined through autopsy and toxicology tests. It is possible, however, that why a person died cannot be determined by autopsy or toxicology results.
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.