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Burleigh County Coroner Information

Information and frequently asked questions reference Medical County Coroners. 

What typically constitutes a Coroner Case?

    1. Obvious or suspected homicidal, suicidal, or accidental injury;
    2. Firearm injury;
    3. Severe, unexplained injury;
    4. Occupant or pedestrian motor vehicle injury;
    5. An injury to a minor;
    6. Fire, chemical, electrical, or radiation;
    7. Starvation;
    8. Unidentified or skeletonized human remains;
    9. Drowning;
    10. Suffocation, smothering, or strangulation;
    11. Poisoning or illegal drug use;
    12. Prior child abuse or neglect assessment concerns;
    13. Open child protection service case on the victim;
    14. Victim is in the custody of the department of health and human services, county social services, the department of corrections and rehabilitation or other correctional facility, or law enforcement;
    15. Unexplained death or death in an undetermined manner;
    16. Suspected sexual assault; or
    17. Any other suspicious factor.


If you have a death in the family being investigated and/or a coroner case, who do you contact with questions?

First, where did the death occur? It is important to know this information as a starting point. If the death occurred within the city limits of Bismarck, contact the Bismarck Police Department:  701-223-1212. If the death occurred within the city limits of Lincoln, contact the Lincoln Police Department:  701-258-2403. If the death occurred outside the city limits of Bismarck and Lincoln and is within Burleigh County, contact the Burleigh County Sheriff’s Department:  701-222-6651.


If you have questions reference an autopsy, contact:

North Dakota State Forensic Examiner's Office
2637 East Main Ave
Bismarck, ND 58501
Phone: 701-328-6138
Fax: 701-328-6228

Are all cases accepted by the Forensic Examiner's Office autopsied?

No. Autopsies are conducted for a variety of reasons, including documentation of injuries or determination of the cause of death. Some cases may receive certain forensic tests combined with external examination of the body in lieu of an autopsy. The decision whether an autopsy will be performed is at the discretion of the pathologist.


Can I prevent an autopsy from taking place?

The legal next-of-kin should inform the Forensic Examiner’s Office of any objection they may have to an autopsy being performed. The Forensic Examiner's Office is sensitive to the needs of the family and will seriously consider their objection; however, in many cases, an autopsy is required by law, and we will be unable to comply with the family's request.


Is there a charge for a forensic examiner autopsy?

No. The costs for autopsies performed under the forensic examiner system are paid by North Dakota tax dollars. The costs do not include funeral, burial, or cremation expenses.


Where may the deceased personal property be located?

In most cases, the property on the deceased is transported to the Forensic Examiner's Office with the body. The personal property is inventoried, stored, and provided to the funeral home at the time the body is released. On occasion, personal property may be retained by law enforcement as evidence. In this case, contact the appropriate law enforcement agency that investigated the death. 


Where do I obtain a copy of the death certificate?

Copies of death certificates can be obtained from:

Vital Records Unit
ND Health and Human Services
600 East Boulevard, Department 325
Bismarck, ND 58505-0250.
Phone:  701-328-2360. 

Obtaining a death certificate can typically take 4 -6 weeks. 


Can I obtain a copy of the autopsy report?

In cases where the manner of death is not homicide, copies will be prepared upon written request and no charge to the decedent’s personal representative and to the decedent's spouse, child, or parent. Homicide cases will be released only with the written approval of the appropriate States Attorney. The written request must include the decedent's full name, date of birth, date of death, your name and relationship to the decedent, and an address where the report should be sent.


How long does it take to receive an autopsy report?

Each autopsy process and report turnaround time are different. Some autopsy reports may be completed and ready for release anywhere from 4-8 weeks; others may take longer than eight weeks. In some cases, where an extended time is required (more than eight weeks), several variables may be influencing the delay of the final autopsy report and can include:

  • The types of tests required and their associated processing times.
  • The complexity of the individual case.
  • Whether there is an ongoing police investigation is in progress.
  • Next of kin can contact the medical examiner's office directly to receive a tentative timeline of reports.


Can I obtain a copy of the police report?

You will need to contact the law enforcement agency that investigated the case. If the case is closed, you will be able to obtain a copy. If the case is open/active, you will have to wait until the case is officially closed. 

Contact Us

Burleigh County Sheriff's Dept
514 E Thayer Ave
Bismarck, ND 58501
Phone: (701) 222-6651

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