Coroner FAQ

The El Paso County Coroner’s Office extends our deepest sympathy to you during this difficult time. We hope that the information contained here will assist you by providing answers to commonly asked questions.

Q. Why is the Coroner involved in my loved one’s death?
A. Colorado State Law requires that the Coroner be notified of certain deaths, including those which are violent or sudden and unexpected. The Coroner must then investigate to determine the cause and manner of death.

Q. Where will my loved one be taken?
A. If an autopsy is going to be done, they will be taken to the El Paso County Coroner’s Office. If an autopsy is not needed, they will be transported from the residence or hospital by a funeral home of the family’s choice.

Q. Is an autopsy always performed?
A. No. Each case is evaluated on an individual basis. When there is additional need to establish the cause and manner of death, an autopsy will be performed by a forensic pathologist. These board-certified doctors specialize in determining what contributed to a person’s death.

Q. Will I be charged for the Coroner’s services?
A. No. Families are not charged for any of our office’s activities.

Q. Is it necessary for me to go to the morgue to identify the body?
A. No. In most cases, an in-person identification is not required. Most people are identified via state-issued IDs and fingerprints. Should it become necessary for you to come in, or if we need further information about your loved one, we will contact you. Typically, identification and next-of-kin notification can be quickly achieved. However, in cases of burns, extensive injury, or decomposition, this can prove more challenging. Our office ensures all leads have been exhausted in pursuit of identification and notification.

Q. How long will it take before my loved one is released from the Coroner’s Office?
A. The preliminary investigation and autopsy, if one is needed, should be done within 48 hours. Most deaths can be released from our office after that point. The funeral home you choose will coordinate the release on your behalf.

Q. What should I do now?
A. The first step is to choose a funeral home to handle the final arrangements. After the choice is made, you will need to sign paperwork with that funeral home – they will set an appointment with you to discuss your options. A list of funeral homes can be obtained from our office or found in the phone book.

Q. If there are no funds for funeral arrangements, what can I do?
A. The family can seek assistance from government and non-government sources. Your funeral director can provide you with that information.

Q. What options are there for organ donation?
A. Organs (heart, lungs, liver, etc.) can only be obtained from someone who is declared brain dead in a hospital setting. Tissues (bone, heart valves, and skin) and corneas can be obtained up to 24 hours after death. Our office can provide you with phone numbers of the appropriate agencies if you would like more information.

Q. How do I obtain a death certificate?
A. Death certificates are filed by your funeral home with the Office of Vital Statistics. You can obtain copies from either the funeral home or the Office of Vital Statistics. Vitals can be reached at 719-575-8492.

Q. How do I obtain copies of an autopsy report?
A. If an autopsy was performed, and you would like a copy of the report, you may send us a letter in the mail or fill out this form. We cannot accept verbal requests. Please note that if the death was recent, the report may not be completed for six to twelve weeks while we process additional testing.

Q. How do I obtain my loved one’s personal possessions?
A. Any personal possessions that were taken by the Coroner’s Office will be inventoried and then released with the body to the funeral home. Any personal possessions that were taken by the law enforcement agency will be inventoried and can be released at the conclusion of the case. The Coroner’s Office will not release belongings to anyone but the funeral home.