Former McHenry County coroner indicted on official misconduct, forgery charges

Monica Maschak - mmaschak@shawmedia.com
McHenry County Coroner Marlene Lantz retired in 2012 after serving six consecutive terms as coroner since 1988.
Monica Maschak - mmaschak@shawmedia.com McHenry County Coroner Marlene Lantz retired in 2012 after serving six consecutive terms as coroner since 1988.

WOODSTOCK – Former McHenry County Coroner Marlene Lantz was indicted Thursday on allegations that for more than 15 years, she never disposed of the remains of a dead baby that recently were discovered in the coroner’s office.

A McHenry County grand jury indicted Lantz on two counts of official misconduct and one count of forgery – each is a Class 3 felony.

According to the indictment, from March 13, 1992, until Lantz left office on Nov. 30, 2012, she failed to dispose of the body of “Baby Reinert,” also known as “Baby Doe.” As part of her official duties, Lantz should have buried the remains, cremated them or donated them to science, the indictment says.

The indictment also says Lantz signed a death certificate saying the baby was buried and that the identity of the mother was unknown, and she did so knowing that such information was false.

Prosecutors were not discussing details of the case, and the circumstances surrounding “Baby Doe” remain unclear. The case will be prosecuted by Chief of the Criminal Division Michael Combs, who said he wouldn’t discuss an open case.

State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi also had no comment.

Lantz and Bianchi are not political bedfellows. The former coroner openly backed anyone running against Bianchi for state’s attorney, and supported Bianchi’s biggest political enemy, former Sheriff Keith Nygren.

Most recently, Lantz supported independent candidate Jim Harrison in his failed bid for ­sheriff to replace Nygren. Harrison was running against Sheriff Bill Prim, who was Bianchi’s favored candidate.

Lantz had sharp comments criticizing Bianchi after he was indicted on corruption charges in 2010. Bianchi has since been cleared of any wrongdoing.

“Too bad he hasn’t met my mother,” Lantz told the Northwest Herald at the time. “She taught us long ago that lying is the same as stealing, because you are taking the truth away. He blames everybody for what he did, and he did it to himself.”

The bill of indictment listed two witnesses: Woodstock police Sgt. Jeff Parsons – the coroner’s office falls under Woodstock’s police jurisdiction – and State’s Attorney Investigator Mike McCleary. McCleary also was indicted and subsequently cleared alongside Bianchi in a second corruption indictment.

Lantz posted $1,000 bond just before 5 p.m. Thursday and was released from McHenry County Jail. She retained attorney Mark Gummerson, who said he wouldn’t comment until he saw the bill of indictment.

Lantz retired as coroner in 2012 after serving 24 years. She could not be reached for comment Thursday.

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