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 (PDF)

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 (PDF)

Request a death certificate

Hennepin County 
Dakota County 
Scott County

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.

Body release form — Next of kin authorization (PDF) - Use Internet Explorer only 

Relinquishment of Burial Rights (PDF) -  Use Internet Explorer only

Digital signature instructions Windows 7 (DOCX)

Digital signature instructions Windows 10 (DOCX)

Burial assistance 

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

Homicide or violent crime deaths - contact victim services at the county attorney's office

Other deaths - contact the county's burial assistance program

Law enforcement, hospitals and funeral homes

Report a death in Hennepin, Dakota or Scott County

Call 612-215-6300

Body release forms

Licensed funeral director — Next-of-kin authorization for removal (PDF) - Use Internet Explorer only

Referring coroner or medical examiner - authorization for removal (PDF) - Use Internet Explorer only

Digital signature instructions Windows 7 (DOCX)

Digital signature instructions Windows 10 (DOCX)

Forms for death reporting, hospice and cremation

Death reporting procedures (PDF)

Hospice pre-registration (PDF)

Cremation approval (PDF)

Health Care Directives website

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 (PDF)

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. Certified copies may cost more. Send fees by check or money order to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner. We don’t take credit cards.

Autopsy Report $25

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 $10

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) $5

This is a summary of case details including cause and manner of death, brief history, summary concerning the demise and toxicology results. 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.

Toxicology Report $10

The toxicology report has the results of the deceased person's lab tests. This report has non-public data and the person requesting it must get legal authorization.

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.

September 2018

September 19

September 11

September 10

September 9

September 2

August 2018

August 30

August 28

August 21

August 20

August 11

August 10

August 7

August 3

July 2018

July 30

July 29

July 25

July 24

July 23

July 20

July 19

July 18

July 17

July 12

July 9

July 5

July 2

June 2018

June 29

June 25

June 22

June 20

June 19

June 18

June 17

June 15

June 11

June 8

June 6

June 4

May 2018

May 29

May 27

May  26

May 18

May 16

May 7

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

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.

Annual reports

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

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