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'It’s not fair': Backlog at state medical examiner’s office delaying funeral for Baltimore family's loved one

Backlog at state medical examiner’s office delaying funeral for Baltimore family's loved one
Posted at 10:00 PM, Feb 21, 2022

BALTIMORE — A Baltimore family is growing frustrated with the Office of Chief Medical Examiner which has yet to perform an autopsy on their loved one two weeks after his death.

The family of Jarrod Jones, 35, who was described as the “heart” of the family, said he died unexpectedly on February 8th.

“He went to his sister’s house to visit. He came in and fell. His sister was upstairs. She came down and tried to do CPR. They called the paramedics. He was unconscious,” Teresa Jones, aunt of Jarrod Jones said.

The family said Jones was a father and was loved by so many.

“Everyone loved Jarrod. There are so many people who are in pain right now,” said Kim Jones, aunt of Jarrod. “He was just that type of person that people gravitated to and they loved him because he had a loving personality.”

While the family grieves the loss, they said they don’t when they’ll be able to bury Jones because of a backlog of bodies awaiting autopsies at the Office of Chief Medical Examiner.

They also said they haven’t been given any answers on when his body will be released to the family.

“Is he in the medical examiners? In the parking lot? Where is he? No one told us anything you know, so it’s real hard,” Teresa said.

The health department blames staffing issues and an increase in deaths related to homicides and overdoses for the backlog.

In response, the health department is hiring new positions and FEMA sent additional support to the medical examiner’s office to help clear the backlog as well.

The Chief Medical Examiner also resigned and has since been replaced.

“What they’re going through should not be on us—a grieving family,” Teresa said. “It’s just not acceptable.”

The Jones family is growing frustrated with the OCME and they’ve since created this petition to bring attention to the case.

“You cannot hold people’s family members for weeks and weeks and almost a month and not release them to their family,” said Kim. “It’s not fair and it’s not right. If you don’t have the manpower to do what you need to do, you need to release people’s family members.”

The family is hoping the OCME will release his body to them, so they can finally lay him to rest and celebrate the life of a man who meant so much to them.

“We should not have to wait 30 days or more to do that,” Kim said.

The Maryland Health Department tells WMAR-2 News the Office of Chief Medical Examiner is being affected by the national shortage of pathologists.

The health department said it continues to work to bring on additional staff. The department also said providing more support for the office is its top priority.