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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

If the information below does not answer your question(s) please contact the Forensic Science Center at 614-525-5290. 

Our address is 2090 Frank Road, Columbus Oh 43223


It is recommended that if a family member or loved one wish to view a decedent, it is done at a funeral home or cremation facility as we do not have the same resources as those facilities.  Confirmation of a decedent’s identity must occur before they can be released to the funeral home or cremation facility. We will work with family and funeral directors to get a decedent released from our facility as quickly as possible.

Positive identification is confirmed through scientific means such as fingerprints, radiology, dental, or DNA comparison.  In some cases, the next of kin may be contacted by the Franklin County Forensic Science Center to come in a make a visual identification of their loved one by viewing a photograph. The next of kin will sign a confirmation form confirming the identification of the decedent.

No. Ohio law requires the County Coroner to investigate the circumstances and determine the cause and manner of death of all deaths that are:

  • The result of violence or other trauma.
  • Suspicious and unusual in nature or foul play is suspected.
  • Sudden and unexpected, when a person is in apparent good health.
  • Not under the care of a physician.
  • Unlawful or due to criminal neglect.

A funeral home must be selected as soon as possible to handle funeral arrangements for the deceased. When you contact the funeral director, advise them that the deceased is under the coroner's jurisdiction and they will contact our office to make arrangements to pick up your loved one.

Autopsies are routinely perfomed to determine the cause and manner of death on all cases listed above. Autopsies are not routinely performed in cases where the death appears to be from natural causes, there is a significant amount of medical history, or if there is no evidence of foul play.

In situations where the death appears to be the result of natural causes and there is no evidence of trauma or foul play, one can object to an autopsy being performed. However, without an autopsy, the exact cause of death may never be known and may be listed as "Undetermined" on the death certificate. This may be important as far as insurance is concerned or where there may be an undetected disease process which may have an impact on other family members. Our pathologists are available to speak with you regarding your concern about not having an autopsy performed. Although, whether or not an autopsy is performed is at the discretion of the pathologist.

The legal next of kin is one of the following, in this order:

  • Spouse
  • Adult Child/Children
  • Parent(s)
  • Sibling(s)
  • Niece(s)/Nephew(s)

When making arrangements at the chosen funeral home, the legal next of kin will need to sign an official body release form. The funeral home will FAX our office a copy and the decedent can then be released.

Personal Property is usually released to the funeral home. If you have further questions, please contact us. If property is being released directly from our office, it will be between the hours of 8 A.M and 4 P.M. Please call ahead, (614) 525-5290.

Indigent burial funding is available for those who qualify. There are also funds available if the decedent was a veteran or the widow(er) of a veteran. Please contact a funeral home for further information.

Determining a cause of death requires many components and the autopsy is just one part. Once the autopsy is completed, if there are preliminary findings, the pathologist may be able to share that information with the legal next of kin.

Every decedent who is autopsied will have blood and other fluids drawn for toxicological testing. Depending on the circumstances, decedents who are brought in for external examinations only do not always have fluids drawn for toxicological testing. Decedents who are brought in as "Hold Only" cases are only held in the coroner's office until a funeral home is selected or a primary care physician is available to sign their death certificate.

These records are not generated by the Franklin County Forensic Science Center and contain either sensitive or legally protected information that is not generally releasable to anyone except the next of kin or the administrator/executor of the decedent's estate.  If you are the legal next of kin, you should contact the office directly for such requests.