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Greene County Medical Examiner probes surrounding counties in autopsy service expansion

The Greene County Medical Examiner's office
The Greene County Medical Examiner's office

The Greene County medical examiner, who’s responsible for death investigations and autopsies in the county, aims to expand its services to other counties in southwest Missouri.

Dr. Dieter Duff, Greene County’s medical examiner, told KSMU the office plans to perform 50 extra autopsies this year on residents from surrounding counties. In 2022, the examiner performed 356 autopsies. Duff says the expansion to 400 autopsies this year could bring in $100,000 to the examiner’s office, which would be used to hire another forensic technician and part-time forensic pathologists.

“Our plan is to expand a little bit initially, with the goal of expanding more in the coming years, so that our office gets a little bit bigger," Duff says. "And I think having a bigger office should actually serve Greene County even better.”

Duff says his office will charge smaller counties for each autopsy they request. Greene County autopsies are covered in the county’s budget and not charged to Greene County families. Currently, autopsies in surrounding counties are provided by a private company.

Even as the medical examiner’s office broadens its range in the region, Duff says he doesn’t consider the services a competition.

“There’s a nationwide shortage of forensic pathologists. And that’s been going on for years. So it’s difficult to get," Duff says. "Especially for smaller counties, it’s difficult to get the services they need sometimes. So we’re just trying to step in and help.”

Duff says he hopes this modest expansion will eventually pave the way for his office to become a regional hub for death investigation.

Josh Conaway is a graduate of Missouri State University with a B.A. in Political Science and an M.A. in International Affairs. He works as a news reporter and announcer at KSMU. His favorite part of the job is exploring the rich diversity of the Ozarks and meeting people with interesting stories to share. He has a passion for history and running.