- Associated Press - Monday, September 22, 2014

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - A bag of human remains has been found in the scandal-plagued Delaware Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, raising new questions about the work that was done at the facility before lawmakers shut it down.

The skeletal remains were found during the process of moving the now-shuttered medical examiner’s office to the state Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s new Division of Forensic Sciences, agency spokeswoman Kimberly Chandler said.

Lawmakers abolished the medical examiner’s office, which closed in February, after its chief was targeted in a criminal investigation and fired for misconduct amid an evidence-tampering scandal.

The bag of male skeletal remains was found in a refrigerator at the medical examiner’s office, apparently sometime in the past few weeks. The man’s remains, dating back to 2006, were identified back then and were supposed to be returned to his family, Chandler told The News Journal, (https://delonline.us/1od1osS).

The family got one of two bags of their loved one’s remains at the time. It’s unclear why the second one remained at the medical examiner’s office.

“When it was discovered, we took immediate steps to make arrangements to return the remains to the family,” Chandler said.

She declined to release the identity of the man whose remains were found, citing privacy concerns, and was unable to confirm whether the remains had been returned to the family. His cause of death was not determined.

The forgotten remains come on top of revelations about sloppy and lax procedures at the drug lab of the medical examiner’s office, where there were more than 50 thefts of drug evidence between 2010 and this February, which compromised hundreds of prosecutions.

Delaware Public Defender Brendan O’Neill said the recently found remains call into question all of the work that was done by the medical examiner’s office, including autopsies, toxicology tests and DNA tests.

“Given what we have learned to date, the operation was a mess and nothing coming out of that lab can be trusted,” he said.

Richard Callery, who was the chief medical examiner at the office before he was fired by Homeland Security Secretary Lewis Schiliro, declined to comment.

Last week, Homeland Security announced that Dr. Gary Collins had been hired as Delaware’s new chief medical examiner. In a letter to legislators, Schiliro announced that the drug lab would be re-opening with new accreditation in October.

The investigation into thefts at the drug testing lab is ongoing.

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Information from: The News Journal of Wilmington, Del., https://www.delawareonline.com

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