Coroner's Creed

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The Logan County Coroner's Office encourages organ and tissue donation and approve the vast majority of donation requests under our jurisdiction.  There are rare exceptions where limits may be placed due to the nature of the death or the involvement of law enforcement. 


For family members, the death of a loved one is one of life's most difficult experiences.  Donations give meaning to life, even after death.  The decision to be a life saving donor may offer your family some comfort in knowing that your legacy carries on and you have made a difference in the lives of others.


Who among us... would not want to receive an organ or tissue if that donation could save our life or otherwise significantly improve our health? ...would not have a tremendous since of fulfillment through knowing that upon our death our organs and tissues, or those of someone we love, that were going to restore health, or life itself, to other human beings?


By registering your decision to be a donor, you get the opportunity to give other people a second chance at life.  As an organ and tissue donor, you can help save and enhance lives of many people.


To become an organ and tissue donor, join Illinois' new organ/tissue donor consent registry.  This is a confidential registry managed by the Illinois Secretary of State's Office.


To register and review the donation process - go to Gift of Hope, click on "Be a donor."


To register only:  Illinois Secretary of State Organ Donation Registry

More information can be found at Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donation

Below is a list of links that may be useful.


Illinois Coroners & Medical Examiners Association



Illinois Coroners & Medical Examiners Creed


Birth and death are the only two universal human experiences.


Birth is the most important biological even in the life of any human being. If it does not occur, there is no being. If there is no person, no legal rights and duties arise, for the law relates to rights and duties of the living people, not inanimate objects.


Death, on the other hand, is the most important legal event for all human beings. When it occurs, all legal rights and duties devolving upon the person during his life span in a civilized jurisdiction are terminated. All persons with whom the deceased had legal relations at that moment in time are also directly affected by the occurrence of death. Moreover, both the decedent and the survivors may be greatly affected legally by how the death occurred, what actually happened, why it occurred, and precisely when it occurred. Above all, who dies must be absolutely determined, and where death occurred is positively required for legal jurisdiction over the decedent is based upon a geographical location.


The law becomes extremely active when a person dies. Wealth is redistributed. Contracts are altered. A wrongful death may give rise to tortious claims. Tax obligations are always present. Public social benefits and private insurance policies are paid. Criminal laws may be invoked. Creditors must be satisfied, and debtors located. Spouse and children, heirs, and next-of-kin have their attachments rearranged. It is not surprising that for centuries the sovereign state has had an overriding interest in the death of its subjects or citizens. The ancient office of Coroner, or the modern office of Medical Examiner, along with the state-licensed physician is legally charged with significant duties in answering the pertinent questions relating to death: Who, Where, When, What, How, Why. Only when these questions have been answered correctly, can all the proper legal issues arising at death be effectively handled for the proper administration of justice.


Although the legal aspects of death are most important, certainly the religious and humanitarian heritages of a civilized society also command a deep concern over the death of a human being. The spiritual faith in a religion as well as the humanitarian concern for a fellow human being demand correct answers to the questions of death: who, where, how, when, and why. Human death obligates the living to acquire accurate facts on which to apply just laws for each deceased member of the human race.


The obligation for proper death investigation is mandatory for legal and religious humanitarian satisfactions in the human society. Let those responsible for death investigations take heed that they labor not only for the State but, also, for God.


Our commitment ... care of the Deceased; Concern for the Living ...


Permission given to ICA by Kenneth S. Field, M.B., Chairman, Board of Trustees, The Forensic Sciences Foundation, April 22, 1988.

Coroner Frequently Asked Questions

Question:What is the duty of the Coroner as mandated by Illinois State Statute?

Chapter 55; Section 5/3-3007: Each Coroner shall be the conservator of the peace of his county, and in the performance of his/her duties shall have the same powers as the Sheriff.

Section 5/3-3013: Where the office of the Sheriff is vacant, the Coroner of the county shall perform all the duties required by law to be performed by the Sheriff and have the same powers…until another Sheriff is elected or appointed and qualified.


Question:What is a Coroner's Case?

The Coroner is responsible for investigating and determining cause of death as follows:

Section 5/3-3013: Every Coroner, whenever, as soon as he/she knows or is informed that the dead body of any person is found, or lying within his/her county, whose death is suspected as being:

  1. Caused by:

Sudden or violent death, whether apparently suicide, homicide or accidental…


Blunt trauma (blows)

Cutting or stabbing


Electric shock

Asphyxia, Drowning




Vehicular collisions

Weather-related (exposure)


Drug overdose, poison ingestion

Fractures of bones

Carbon monoxide poisoning

Anesthetic accident (O.R.)

Work related deaths

B.  A maternal or fetal death due to abortion…sex crime or a crime against nature…

C.  A suspicious, obscure or mysterious death…

D.  A death where addiction to alcohol or drugs may have been a contributing cause… 

E.  A natural death where the decedent was not attended by a licensed physician or occurring within 24 hours of admission to hospital…

F.  Deaths occurring in any jail or other correctional institution…

The coroner shall go to the place where the dead body is and take charge of same and shall conduct an investigation into the circumstances of the death. 


Question:What is an Inquest?

An inquest is a legal public inquiry (hearing) into the manner of death in which the Coroner and six jurors sit in a quasi-judicial fashion and evidence is presented (medical, investigative and legal) to determine the manner and circumstances surrounding a death.  Family members may attend and learn all the facts surrounding the death of a loved one.  However, as of January 1st, 2007, it is no longer mandatory by state law, for a Coroner to conduct formal inquests.   Logan County still conduct inquests but at a lesser number.   The Logan County Coroner’s Office now has the option to conduct internal case studies to determine the manner of death (natural, homicide, suicide, accident, undetermined).  These studies are no less thorough than a formal inquest and provide the family with a more timely conclusion and issuance of the permanent death certificate


Question:Who Reports the Death to the Coroner?

Section 5/3-3020: Any law enforcement official, funeral director, paramedic, first responder, hospital or nursing home staff, or person having custody of the body.  Any physician or nurse in a decedent home at the time of his/her death, shall notify the Coroner promptly. Any such person failing to do so shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. 


Question:Who Signs the Death Certificate?

Section 5/3-3018: Every Coroner, as soon as he/she shall have completed his/her investigation of the cause and circumstances to death coming within his/her jurisdiction, shall issue a death certificate.  


Question:What Authority Does the Coroner Have in Regard to Investigation into the circumstances of the Death?

Section 5/3-3013: In cases of apparent suicide, homicide accidental, or suspicious death the Coroner may…summon a jury of 6 persons…and conduct an inquest into the manner of death. All deaths in state institutions and all deaths of wards of the State in private care facilities…shall be reported to the Coroner of the county in which the facility is located.

Question:What Authority Does the Coroner Have in Regard to the Dead Body?

Section 5/3-3019: No dead body…or the personal property of such a deceased person, shall be handled, moved, disturbed, embalmed or removed from the place of death by any person, except with the permission of the Coroner. Any person knowingly violating the provisions of this Section is guilty of Class A misdemeanor.

Section 5/3-3015: Where a death has occurred and the circumstances concerning the death are suspicious, obscure, mysterious and the cause of death cannot be established definitely except by autopsy, it shall be the duty of the Coroner to cause an autopsy to be performed. 

Section 5/3-3021: The Coroner shall release the body of the decedent to the next-of-kin or to the funeral director selected by such persons. Authorization of appropriate next-of-kin is required by the Logan County Coroner's Office.

Question:What is an Autopsy?

An autopsy is a surgical procedure (internal and external examination of the body) used to aid the Coroner in establishing a cause of death in those cases where the cause cannot be established with a reasonable degree of certainty without an autopsy or mandated by State Statute. An autopsy is performed by a licensed forensic pathologist who has been certified by the State of Illinois.

Question: Does the family need to consent to an autopsy before the Coroner may authorize that one be performed?

No. The Coroner may order an autopsy to be performed in any case deemed necessary. In matters of death investigation, the Coroner has absolute and complete authority and unlimited powers to: 

  1. Investigate
  2. Make chemical analysis of body tissues
  3. Subpoena
  4. Arrest


Question:What are the Responsibilities of the Coroner?

The responsibilities of the Coroner are to ensure that the proper scientific studies are performed: 


Toxicology tests

Microscopic examinations




Taking and gathering reports

Notification of death to families

On-scene investigation


Transportation of victims assuring chain of evidence security

Evidence collecting

Dental examination and identification

Meeting with survivors

Presiding at inquests

Issuance of Death Certificates and Cremation Permits 

Work alongside and cooperating with:

  1. Medical agencies
  2. Funeral Directors
  3. Law enforcement agencies
  4. Fire & Rescue Departments
  5. And others…

Coroner’s Welcome Note:

The Coroner’s office is located in the county seat of Lincoln, Illinois, approximately 35 miles north of our state capital Springfield, in Logan County. Logan County is approaching 30 thousand in population and is 618 square miles. 

Lincoln is easily accessible by I-55 and I-155 and also Illinois Routes 10 and 121. On the North edge of Lincoln we have a small but very interesting Logan County Airport. For more information, you can visit the Logan County website at

I understand that no one plans to or wants to have any professional encounters with the coroner’s office, however if the unfortunate need does present itself then I want the experience to be professional and compassionate.   Knowing death is part of life and that unnatural or unexpected deaths will happen then I want to have the most qualified individuals available to carry out the duties of coroner.   My staff and I will continue to work with law enforcement and all other agencies to provide the most comprehensive forensic death investigation possible.


Robert E, Thomas

Coroner of Logan County


Logan County Coroner Responsibilities:

► Maintain a 24 hour office
► Respond to death scenes
► Report infant and child deaths
► Make death notifications
► Determine necessity for autopsy
► Facilitate autopsy process
► Coordinate and transport of deceased from death scene
► Conduct death investigations when necessary
► Schedule and conduct inquests
► Issue temporary death certificates
► Issue permanent death certificates
► Issue permits to cremate
► Maintain records of reported deaths
► Maintain vital statistics related to all reported cases
► Take charge of personal property of deceased until release
► Report traffic, fire, boating and work related fatalities to the State of Illinois
► Upkeep the county’s Emergency Plan
► Obtain a minimum of 24 hour of continuing education annually


Reporting a death:

When any person dies as a result of criminal or other violent means, by casualty, suicide, or suddenly when in apparent good health, or in any suspicious or unusual manner, the person in attendance should immediately notify their police department.   The police department will call the coroner’s office and any other agencies needed for a professional investigation.  Together all response agencies will investigate and share vital information.   


The types of deaths included but not limited to:

► Traffic accident fatalities
► Accidental deaths at home
► Accidental deaths at work (or when death follows injury)
► Homicides
► Suicides
► Criminal or self-inflicted abortions
► Deaths involving alcoholism
► Deaths at home
► Deaths at any public place
► Deaths in a hospital emergency room
► Deaths in a hospital within 24 hours of admission
► Deaths occurring within one year and one month of a hip fracture


Note: Not all of the above deaths will become coroner cases, but should be reported for elimination or further investigation.