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Montana Medical Examiner Office

The Montana Medical Examiner’s Office is a bureau within the Montana Department of Justice, Forensic Science Division.  It was created in the 1980s to provide autopsy services and death investigation resources for county coroners, law enforcement agencies, and county attorneys on behalf of Montana’s citizens.  The office has locations at both the Montana State Crime Lab in Missoula and the Eastern Forensic Science Division in Billings. Medical Examiners are Forensic Pathologists (Physicians specialized in forensics) who work with the State’s county coroners and other law enforcement agencies to determine cause and manner of death in unattended or unexpected circumstances.

Mission Statement: We strive to create a partnership between Medical Examiners and Coroners to promote the health, well-being, and safety of the citizens of Montana through education, service, and compassionate, professional death investigation.

Death Investigation Roles: Montana has a coroner-based death investigation system in which the coroner of each county is responsible for deaths that occur in his/her county.  Our forensic pathologists are a resource for county coroners and provide autopsy and medico-legal services.  Autopsy services are requested by coroners, or other law enforcement investigators,  to assist in clarifying cause and manner of death. Autopsy services typically include toxicology testing.  Final reports are available on average within 60-90 days and are provided to the county coroners for distribution.

Family Information:  The county coroner is typically the primary contact for a death investigation of a loved one.  Coroners complete the cause and manner on death certificates.  Some investigations may necessitate a “pending” cause of death until all the needed information is gathered (such as an autopsy or toxicology report.) If an autopsy is performed, a decedent’s personal effects are documented and photographed and provided to the designated funeral home, unless the items are considered evidence.  Evidence retrieved during an autopsy is submitted for analysis to the State Crime Lab by law enforcement.  Upon completion of analysis, the evidence is returned to the submitting law enforcement agency.  Family viewing of loved ones is arranged with funeral homes and is not permitted at the Medical Examiner facilities.

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Locations

Medical Examiner’s Office – Missoula Location

MT State Crime Lab
2679 Palmer St
Missoula, MT 59808

Hours: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. weekdays, excluding holidays
Admin: 406-728-4970
Fax : (406)549-1067

Medical Examiner’s Office – Billings Location

Forensic Science Division – East
1516 4th Ave N Suite 1
Billings, MT 59101

Hours: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. weekdays, excluding holidays
Admin: (406)255-1101
Fax: (406)255-1120

Annual Report from the Montana Medical Examiner’s Office: https://media.dojmt.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019-ME-Annual-Report.pdf

Vital Statistics (Birth and Death certificates): https://dphhs.mt.gov/vitalrecords

American Academy of Forensic Sciences: https://www.aafs.org/

National Association of Medical Examiners: https://name.memberclicks.net/

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