Medical examiner's office

The medical examiner investigates all unexpected deaths in Hennepin, Dakota and Scott counties, to determine how and why a person has died. On request, the office also provides autopsy services for other jurisdictions.

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Families and next of kin

We use scientific methods to learn how and why a person has died. The information we gather can influence the outcome of court cases, and help surviving family members protect their own health.

Autopsy and results

An autopsy is a thorough physical examination of a body to determine how and why a person died. The examination can also identify disease, injury and other conditions that might not have been obvious when the person was alive. Upon request, certain family members (spouse, children, parents and siblings) may be entitled to an autopsy report.

Request an autopsy report

In some cases, an autopsy is required by law. If you think your loved one would object to an autopsy based on their religious beliefs, tell the medical examiner right away. We will work with you to find a solution.

Also, sometimes the medical examiner must keep larger portions of tissues or even whole organs to fully examine them. If you want those returned, write to our office within two weeks of the autopsy and make arrangements through a funeral director. Otherwise, the tissues and organs are destroyed.

Organ and tissue donation

An investigator or hospital staff may have already approached you about donating your loved one’s tissues or organs. If not, and you’re interested in donation, tell the medical examiner staff right away.

Clothing and property

The medical examiner will account for all the property and clothing brought into the office and store them in a secure area. In most cases, we release clothing and property to the funeral home. The police might hold items that could affect a criminal case.

Public and nonpublic information

Certain information about the death is available to the public, including full name; age; race; gender; home address; date, time and location of injury; date, time and location of death, and brief descriptive comments. Other information about the death is available only to next-of-kin (usually a spouse, children, parents and siblings), and personal lawyers and doctors. We release some information about the death to the public, but most is protected and only available to next of kin.

Make an information request

Authorization for release of records form

Request a death certificate

For deaths occurring in other Minnesota counties, request a death certificate from state vital records.

Release of the body

The funeral home may receive the body only with permission from the person with the legal right to decide what happens to the body. In most cases, this is next of kin, but it could also be a health care agent or a member of the extended family. This person must inform the medical examiner’s office if someone else will be making decisions about the body.

Burial assistance

When families can’t afford burial or cremation, the county may be able to help with those expenses.

Forms for genetic and paternity testing

Law enforcement, hospitals, hospice, funeral homes, and referral counties

Report a death in Hennepin, Dakota or Scott County

Call 612-215-6300

Referral autopsy forms

Decedent identification and autopsy referral forms are required on all referral cases. Forms must be submitted prior to the transport of the body to the Medical Examiner's Office.

Courtesy hold

Funeral homes may request to temporarily store a body at the Medical Examiner's Office. There is a fee charged for this service.

Body release forms

Forms for death reporting, hospice and cremation

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office no longer accepts paper or faxed cremation approvals. All requests for cremation authorization must be filed and approved in the MR&C system.

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner charges fees to funeral homes.

Email an investigator

me.investigators@hennepin.us

Get directions to our office

Map

Data requests and death reports

Request a death certificate

Access to death certificates is limited.

Learn who can get one and how to apply

Request data

On request, certain data about death investigations are available.

Make a data request

Type and cost of reports

For a fee, you can request several standard reports from the medical examiner’s office, if you’re allowed to do so under state law. Send fees by check or money order to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner. We don’t take credit cards.

Autopsy Report $30

Only the deceased person’s next of kin, treating physicians and authorized attorneys can request an autopsy report. Next of kin are usually a spouse, children, parents and siblings. Autopsy reports may also become part of a court record, or released by court order.

Cause of Death Hierarchy $15

This report provides the cause and manner of death, and toxicology results. This report has non-public data and the person requesting it must get legal authorization.

Medical Examiner Final (MEF) $10

This is a summary of case details including cause and manner of death, brief history, summary concerning the demise. This report has non-public data and the person requesting it must get legal authorization.

Medical Examiner Investigative Reports $50

Investigative reports contain the deceased person’s name, age, race, gender, home address, the legal next of kin, location of death, injury detail, narrative and additional reports. This report has non-public data and the person requesting it must get legal authorization.

Photos $25

When photos are available, next of kin, treating physicians and authorized attorneys can request photos of the death scene and autopsy. Next of kin are usually a spouse, children, parents and siblings. Photos may also become part of a court record, or released by court order. 

Complete Medical Examiner File (Cost to be determined)

Our office reviews requests for the complete case file on a case-by-case basis. We inform the requester of the fee. This report has non-public data and the person requesting it must get legal authorization.

Public Data Form (No charge)

This form has all the public data on a deceased person.

News releases

Read public information about cases the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office has investigated. All files are formatted as PDFs.

March 2020

March 25

March 19

March 18

March 16

March 10

March 5

March 4

March 2

February 2020

February 29

February 26

February 19

February 18

February 14

February 10

February 6

February 1

January 2020

January 29

January 27

January 24

January 23

January 22

January 19

January 15

January 13

January 10

January 8

January 2

December 2019

December 31

December 20

December 17

December 12

December 10

December 3

December 1

November 2019

November 30

November 28

November 27

November 24

November 18

November 14

November 13

November 12

November 8

November 1

October 2019

October 30

October 21

October 17

October 14

October 10

October 4

October 2

About the Medical examiner's office

Our staff

We rely on dedicated and compassionate individuals to conduct death investigations. Medical examiners are medical doctors trained in the specialty of forensic pathology. Investigators look into the circumstances of a death, and are the primary contacts for families and law enforcement. Investigative assistants, technicians and office specialists also support our work.

Our office is accredited by the National Association of Medical Examiners.

Employment

Find current opportunities for the Medical Examiner’s Office on the Hennepin Jobs page. We do not offer internships.

Hennepin Jobs

Background check consent form

Tours and talks

The office does not permit civilians to do a ride along or tour the facility. Professional agencies and colleagues may contact the office to inquire about tours and training opportunities. Community outreach and education about death investigation is important to us.

To ask about having a member of the medical examiner's staff speak at your event or agency, please call our office at 612-215-6300.

Request for a presentation

Request for a tour

Annual reports

Potential fellows

Now recruiting for 2022-2023

We have a strong educational mission to train future medical doctors and forensic pathologists. We offer a full year fellowship program in forensic pathology. Applications are accepted year-round from current medical students and residents. Applications are accepted year-round from current medical students and residents, and submitting applications 2-3 years early is strongly encouraged.

Fellowships start every July 1st. At the start of the fellowship, the selected fellow must have successfully completed their undergraduate medical education, and have successfully completed 4 years of AP/CP OR at 3 years of AP residency at an accredited medical education institution. The fellow should desire to acquire post-graduate medical education and training in forensic pathology.

The fellow must meet the qualifications for eligibility outlined in the Essentials of Accredited Residencies in Graduate Medical Education in the AMA graduate education directory. Falsification of any of the application or information documents, or failure to meet eligibility requirements, constitutes cause for dismissal.

More information

Questions

Prior to submitting application materials, please contact Joan Jung to learn about availability.

For students

Thank you for your interest in learning more about the field of forensic science. We have linked some information below where you may find answers to your questions—at least enough to get you started thinking about forensics. Good luck in your future pursuits.

Educational opportunities

We have a strong educational mission to train future medical doctors and forensic pathologists. Our office has an accredited fellowship program in forensic pathology, and collaborates with the University of Minnesota and Hennepin County Medical Center to provide rotational opportunities for medical students and residents.

We also partner with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to provide specialized training to law enforcement officers.

Job classifications for medical examiner jobs in Hennepin County

Our staff is a team of professionals with varied skills and educational backgrounds. Some of the careers that are utilized in our office include those listed below, where you can learn more about these careers and what knowledge, skills and abilities we look for when hiring new team members.

Resources

Interview with Hennepin County medical examiner, Andrew Baker

What educational qualifications do you need to become a medical examiner?

Being a medical examiner in the United States requires a college degree, a medical degree (MD or DO), residency training in anatomical or anatomical and clinical pathology (generally 3-4 years), and a year-long fellowship in forensic pathology. Both the pathology residency and the forensic pathology fellowship are followed by board certification examinations.

How would you describe what your job entails?

A typical day in the life of a medical examiner usually starts with reading new cases and deciding which cases need autopsies or other further investigation. Depending on the day of the week, a medical examiner might next perform one or more autopsies. Later in the day, after autopsies are completed, you would find the medical examiner returning phone calls to families, editing autopsy reports, signing death certificates, teaching, or meeting with attorneys in preparation for an upcoming trial.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part of being a medical examiner is using medical skills to solve mysteries. Many of the deaths we investigate are not fully explained until a complete autopsy and extensive laboratory work are done. Our skills provide answers to families, the public, and the courts that they would otherwise not have.

What is a common misconception people have about what you do?

Medical examiners on TV are often portrayed as an arm of law enforcement or the criminal justice system. In reality, we are completely independent of those. Medical examiners are doctors whose work happens to sometimes overlap with the law enforcement or the criminal justice systems, and we use our medical skills to inform them.

What is the most memorable experience you’ve had as a medical examiner?

I was one of the core team of forensic pathologists that identified and autopsied all the people killed in the September 11, 2001, attack on American Airlines Flight 77 and the Pentagon in Washington DC.

What are you the most proud of?

In 2017, I worked pro bono on a case for the Innocence Project. My work and my testimony helped secure the exoneration of a woman who spent 15 years in prison for a murder she could not possibly have committed.

If I wanted to be a medical examiner, what courses should I take to prepare?

The most important thing a young person can do is make sure your college advisor knows, on day one, that you are planning to apply to medical school. Your premedical advisor will make sure you take all the courses required for medical school admission. Beyond those courses, there is nothing specific you need to do to prepare for a future as a medical examiner. My personal advice would be to take as many courses outside the sciences as you can—the arts, humanities, literature, history, social sciences—that will make you a well-rounded person and physician. Honing your writing and public speaking skills will serve you well as a medical examiner.

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