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Doctor who evaluated McHenry County Coroner’s Office to speak before full board

Dr. Dennis Kellar talks about the duties and responsibilities associated with the office of coroner during a meeting to address issues with the coroner's office at the McHenry County Administrative Building on Wednesday in Woodstock.
Dr. Dennis Kellar talks about the duties and responsibilities associated with the office of coroner during a meeting to address issues with the coroner's office at the McHenry County Administrative Building on Wednesday in Woodstock.

Dr. Dennis Kellar, who performed an independent evaluation of the operation of the McHenry County Coroner’s Office, will present his findings before the McHenry County Board during Thursday’s Committee of the Whole meeting.

Kellar provided an overview of his findings during an ad hoc committee last week but was asked to present his findings again so the full board can weigh in.

According to Kellar’s report, tissue and body fluid evidence was stored in a 10-year-old residential refrigerator with broken racks, a broken door and a padlock latch on the side that didn’t have a lock. However, samples stored in the McHenry County Coroner’s Office are not used as prosecutorial evidence in criminal cases.

Specimens – which were labeled with a Sharpie – either were in containers similar to urine cups, in plastic Tupperware-style containers or wrapped in what appeared to be plastic wrap, according to the report.

Interim Coroner Lt. John Miller of the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office – which currently is overseeing the coroner’s office – said that a capital improvement request has been made for a new refrigerator.

Kellar also documented open boxes of loose and bottled prescription drugs totaling “thousands of pills” and a bag containing more than $20,000 sitting in an open and unsecured file cabinet.

In response, the sheriff’s office began collecting keys from deputy coroners past and present, funeral home directors and other nonemployees of the county who may have had some form of access to the facility.

A revised evidence control policy also was created that gives the coroner and designated property custodians sole access to secured property rooms.

Property custodians also must review all property and evidence entered into the department’s property database, maintain accurate records of all submitted evidence, securely store all submitted property and evidence, have evidentiary property processed within chain of custody requirements and dispose of property or evidence in accordance with legal standards.

The Committee of the Whole meeting will be at 9 a.m. at the McHenry County Administration Building, 667 Ware Road.

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