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Resident complains over length of time state releases bodies for burial

- particularly when no foul play is suspected
January 6th, 2017 | Tags: Coroner autopsy bodies burial concerns
A resident of the Virgin Islands has called for the powers that be to be more considerate and act more swiftly in releasing bodies for burial when no foul play has been suspected. Photo: Daily Star/File
Senior Magistrate Tamia N. Richards serves as the Coroner of the Virgin Islands. Photo: VINO/File
Senior Magistrate Tamia N. Richards serves as the Coroner of the Virgin Islands. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- A concerned individual has made a case for the powers that be to be more considerate and act more swiftly when dealing with bodies when no foul play has been suspected.

In an interview with this news site, the individual, who chose to remain unknown, said there are several cases where persons passed away and the grieving family has to wait too lengthy a time for the corpse to be released so that preparations for burial could begin.

“You can’t take a week to do that; that keeps the people in limbo. People have to make reservations,” the source, who appeared to be well informed on the matter pointed out.

The source also mentioned several other cases, in recent times who suffered similar fates, however, due to the sensitivity of the matter we chose to withhold the names.

“…This causes stress on the family, these people died at home, these people were under the doctor’s care, if you have to do an autopsy, the Coroner should step in and look at this thing…The people in charge have to say ‘lord think of the family,’ they have their job to do but what about being sympathetic and moving along a little faster?”


According to our information, when someone passes away, and was perhaps ill and under doctor’s care, the medical report is then retrieved from the doctor by the law enforcement officers who come to the scene.

This medical report is then brought to the Coroner at the Magistrate’s Court, who will then assign it to an officer who will proceed to prepare the death report.

Upon receiving the death report, the Coroner will decide if there is a need for an autopsy and if they don’t, it will take about 3 days.

“Sometimes it runs a little longer or a little shorter, it all depends on how everybody is cooperating,” our well-placed source said.

Similar concern expressed in December 2016

It was in December of last year that relatives of Dexter Cottoy aka ‘Deckie’ and Calbert Browne aka ‘Buju’ who lost their lives in a tragic automobile accident on the sister island of Virgin Gorda on November 28, 2016 and the young man Estavan Jefferson, who was shot to death at the Stickett in Long Look, Tortola on November 17, 2016, had expressed concern at the length of time the state was holding the bodies.

At the time police and BVI Health Services Authority officials were still waiting to conduct investigations as to the cause of death.

It is standard procedure that an official autopsy must be carried out and that could include waiting for a medical examiner from overseas, according to police sources.

It is unclear if the BVI Heath Services Authority has plans to hire a full time medical examiner (pathologist) for the Virgin Islands.

17 Responses to “Resident complains over length of time state releases bodies for burial”

  • vip (06/01/2017, 15:01) Like (5) Dislike (5) Reply
    Look the NDP killed the country and don't want to turn it over?
    • facts man (06/01/2017, 17:20) Like (2) Dislike (5) Reply
      much to do about nothing!
    • needed (07/01/2017, 10:39) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
      Is the NDP not humans like you. What are you doing to help the country.Stop balming people for peoples mistakes.We to are responable for the countries up keep.But it stead we just sit and find fault.Shut up if you are no help.
  • Boo (06/01/2017, 15:26) Like (8) Dislike (7) Reply
    They keep the bodies to play important that time they not doing a dam investgation
  • Suga (06/01/2017, 15:27) Like (23) Dislike (4) Reply
    It took us a month to get the go ahead to plan our loved one who was murdered funeral and guess who had to foot the mortuary fees??? We had to wait on this and that to be done by government and still had to pay the bill or they refused to release the body if fees aren't paid up. If someone is murdered, and the government has custody of the body to conduct their investigations, the family shouldn't have to pay those fees prior to the body being released to the family. That's outright wrong!!!!! It was a very frustrating and stressful period and there is no one to complain to.
    • Same experience (06/01/2017, 18:05) Like (21) Dislike (1) Reply
      Shameful that people have to be forced to grieve in an extended way. My family went thru the same thing. Took them close to an entire month to release the body, and yes, we too had to pay the mortuary for all that time they kept the body to do their investigation. That should not be and quite unfair to grieving family members. It's difficult to get on with life and grieving when you have to wait so long to bury your love one.

      From my family's experience, a big part of the slow down has to do with getting a forensic pathologist to visit and conduct the autopsy. They had to fly one in from St.Croix, and that prolonged the process. They need to fix this. People die it appears every week here. There should have a permanent pathologist to conduct autopsies already. It will speed things up.

      The back and forth with the Coronor in terms of collecting information and assigning it to an officer could be streamlined and improved as well. This is perhaps the only place that I am aware where someone dies and it takes weeks before you can get them buried. Terrible.
  • Yes (06/01/2017, 17:09) Like (13) Dislike (0) Reply
    money racket
  • to Suga (06/01/2017, 17:28) Like (13) Dislike (0) Reply
    Boy couldn't agree with you more. U are quite right, it is not Fair for to pay mortuary bills when the state has custody of bodies, when it's not the deceased fault of their demise. Food for thought, u can challenge the authorities in Court for reimbursement of monies.
  • lindsey (06/01/2017, 17:49) Like (2) Dislike (1) Reply
    she want to be in every thing we cant find a replacement get a male coroner instead she will soon jail the dead people lol
    • Don't be an a$$ (09/01/2017, 14:39) Like (0) Dislike (2) Reply
      How about you suggest the government find someone to deal with coroner matters and take it from under the magistrate's court since u think "she want to be in every thing".... it's unfortunate that stuff like this happens but there is a procedure u go through with everything. There are other government bodies these stuff have to pass through. Someone can't just die and u collect the body from the morgue. Then there's the fact that we don't have a forensic pathologist & one is to be requested from overseas for certain deaths. What does having a male coroner have to do with bodies being in the morgue? Sad that the coroner getting all the flack when Police, Doctors(private and public) & sometimes the pathologist are the hold up..
  • chad (06/01/2017, 19:13) Like (0) Dislike (10) Reply
    All of u come here kill off ur loved ones for insurance money and because full investigations being done i catching a cow. Talk the dam truth
  • .... (06/01/2017, 21:04) Like (4) Dislike (2) Reply

    If the hospital is making $60 a day. Why release tbe bodies on a timely manner? All jokez aside. Is money they want to make out of the poor people?

  • Afu (06/01/2017, 21:51) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    The government here does'nt give a $#!t about you when you're alive, you think they'll give a s#!t about you when you pass away here? It gets even worse. Remove these n&$t¥ high paid o££ic&ls out of here. This is nastiness, and not nice to the poor natives here. I bet they would act in a much nicer manner if it was one of their own who passed on.
  • Hmmmm (07/01/2017, 09:43) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    I have complained about this years ago and sadly nothing is being done the entire process is way too long and no one cares about the grieving family it is all super work to them done in willful slow motion
    Maybe the complaints commissioner can help ?
    The others don't care
  • Wendy (07/01/2017, 10:37) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    I would give them a certain time to release my family member remains to me and if that time passes they will have to bury them themselves. Just ridiculous.
  • Lily Ann (13/10/2017, 13:52) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    They keep the bodies so you can rack up a hefty hospital bill ... I just been thru that ... luckily the hospital waived the fees for me ... I'm broke like diet and my mom choose now to poppop off on me

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