Christmas came early this year! Imagine my great delight when I was placed on a panel to talk about autopsies with Santa Claus! Bradley Harper-- a former army pathologist now turned novelist and part-time Santa with his wife- Mrs. Claus-- and I led a (best of the conference!) workshop on death investigation and autopsies to a rousing crowd at Killer Nashville. I spoke about the 10 steps in death investigation, while Bradley gave insight on how and when autopsies are performed and offered up a few case studies from his days as a medical examiner. In case you are as curious as our audience was, I'm laying out those 10 points here. 10 Steps in Death Investigation 1) A death happens (attended or unattended). 2) A death is reported (by whomever finds the victim). 3) First responders arrive. (Police, EMTs, Firepersons) They can't touch the victim unless they are trying to resuscitate. 4) Once death is determined, the Coroner/M.E. is called and arrives to investigate & pick up the body. 5) If an autopsy is warranted, the body is transported to the morgue. 6) Once at the morgue, the victim & any evidence found on body is processed (photos, measurements, video). From here any evidence is sent to the police for documentation, testing, and storage. 7) The police and/or coroner seek to identify the name of the victim and notify next of kin. 8) An autopsy is performed by a medical examiner/forensic pathologist. 9) Cause and manner of death are determined by medical examiner- natural, accidental, suicidal, homicidal, or undetermined. 10) The body is released to family/mortuary/crematorium for burial.