Autopsies in Marion County criminal cases might be farmed out to Terre Haute and Dayton, Ohio, because of an ongoing dispute in the coroner's office.
That plan surfaced Monday after concerns that the office's difficulties with contractors who perform the county's autopsies could jeopardize investigations into two weekend homicides. An attorney for county coroner Kenneth Ackles said his office has lined up Dr. Roland Kohr of Vigo County and Dr. Kent Harshbarger of Dayton, who may not come to Indianapolis to do the autopsies.
"If the need arises for bodies to be transported, we'll have to make arrangements for law enforcement to accompany the bodies," said Ackles' attorney, Ralph Staples. "Hopefully, we can do those autopsies here in Marion County."
He said the county would have to pay for transporting the bodies but would consider legal remedies to recover the money.
The irony is that Marion Co. Coroner Kenneth Ackles' decision to terminate the 5-year contract he had with Forensic Pathology Associates was based on his desire to cut expenses. Now, taxpayers will be forking over transportation expenses to send bodies out-of-state, in some instances, for autopsies to be performed. The problem is entirely self-inflicted. Ackles has long known that the existing contractor intended to perform autopsies only through December 1. Although Dr. Stephen Radentz and his associate agreed to stay on through December 19 after it became apparent Ackles had failed to timely line up a replacement forensic pathologist, the refusal of Ackles to communicate a response to them concerning their offer for continued services led to their walkout from the office as of Monday. Ackles' choice to replace Radentz' firm, Dr. Joye Carter, will not be able to perform work until at least Friday, assuming her temporary medical license is approved this week by the Indiana Medical Licensing Board.