Ch 10: It's Official

  Even though her body had been lying in the mud for several hours, peered at curiously by police officers, photographers, and onlookers, Vonda Harris was not officially dead until she was declared deceased by the coroner. It's a quaint procedure steeped in legalities. The body could be stiff as a rail and decomposing, but as far as the law was concerned, it was not dead until the coroner arrived and officially confirmed the death and fixed it on paper.

  When Elbert Vanburen, the parish coroner, arrived, it was a matter of formality. It didn't take him but a few minutes to complete the paperwork and conclude that the body was deceased. "Pretty ugly," said Vanburen.

  "Yeah, somebody was really sick," said Ellerman.

  "Well, there will have to be an autopsy. That's the law. Shouldn't take long,. What funeral home?" he asked.

    "Millers. They just left," said Brown "We'll get Dr. Gilchrist from the Monroe Lab to go over to Miller’s, do the autopsy and give a report," said Vanburen.

    "We'll get Dr. Gilchrist from the Monroe Lab to go over there and do the autopsy and give a report," said Vanburen. It was all routine for him. He had long ago detached himself from any emotional connection to victims. It was the only way he could keep sane, especially after seeing so much death by both natural and inflicted causes. The murders were the hardest for him to handle because the victims seemed helpless and vulnerable, and undeserving of their fates.

   The mortician placed Vonda's body into a black plastic bag that was zipped up and loaded into the rear of the hearse.

   The assailant showed no emotion as he watched the hearse roll away. He knew the autopsy would be performed quickly right in the funeral home. There would be no in-depth forensic analysis, just what the doctor could observe.

   No evidence pointed to the assailant. He was pleased with himself.
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