Ask a Cop: What happens when a dead body is found?

Sgt. Chris Yagelski

Q: I am trying to write a book (I know right?). I am wondering if you could help by telling me what happens when a dead body is found. Also what police agency has jurisdiction, the agency where the body was found or the agency where the person actually lived or was taken from?

A: What happens depends on what happened. For example, if an elderly person or someone suffering from a known medical condition is found dead inside their home, and there are no signs of criminal activity, a cursory investigation is done to document that information.

If a person is found dead in other circumstances, say with a gunshot wound or stabbing, the case is investigated as a homicide. The results of the investigation could lead to a ruling of wrongful death/murder, suicide, accidental homicide, justified homicide or undetermined cause of death.

Generally, the primary investigative agency will be the one where the body is located. There are provisions in the law that would allow another agency to handle the investigation in certain circumstances. For example, if a person was kidnapped in county A, was taken through county B, was killed in county C, and was dumped in county D, any of the jurisdictions where the crime took place (all four) could assume a role of the investigation. However, common sense almost always applies. For example, county B in the above case would or should not try to take control of the investigation. Also, transporting someone across state lines during the commission of a crime can now involve two different sets of state laws plus federal law since it is an interstate crime.

Q: My girlfriend is 17, and turns 18 in June, and is more than ready to move out of her parents’ house and just move in with me in my apartment. They threatened to call the police if she does. Can the cops do anything about it since she is close enough to being 18? 

A: Actually “Yes!” Unless she is emancipated by her parents, she cannot legally be on her own at 17.

Oh, and “close enough” is not a legal term that is recognized by a court or a law enforcement officer! 

Q: I have a chance to help work on a local farm this summer and I’m excited because I get to help run the tractors and equipment. My mom and dad told me that I wasn’t old enough and would need a driver’s license or a CDL. The farmer I am working for laughed and said I didn’t need anything. Who is right, my parents or my new boss?

A: Actually, your new boss is correct, and tell your mom not to worry (too much). Working on a farm is private property and no licenses are required to run farm equipment in Indiana. According to Child Labor Laws for Agricultural Employment you may begin working on a farm (not during school hours) at 12 years old. A stipulation exists where to operate a farm wagon on a highway you must be at least 15 years old. Remember that tractors and farm implements can be dangerous and deadly so be careful and always respect the equipment you are using. Have fun and be safe!

The winner of last column’s riddle sponsored by Scotty’s Dynamic Designs was Millie Bearickx of Michigan City. Last column’s riddle of what room did the kidnapper keep Scotty in? The answer was Room #4 with the # symbol on the door.

The sponsor for this week’s riddle are our friends at the ACME Lodge #83 located at 8700 Pahs Road in Michigan City. The winner receives a $30 gas card!

Here’s a different kind riddle so take you time. If Boston is east of New York, cross out all the A’s. If not, cross out the R’s. If Paris is south of New York, cross out all the O’s. If not, cross out the I’s. If Sri Lanka is in Asia, cross out the B’s If not, cross out the C’s. If you like Ice Cream cross out all the U’s. The remaining letters will tell you whether you’ve found the right answer.


The 8th correct answer by phone or email at exactly 1 p.m. today wins.

To answer a question or ask one, contact Sgt. Chris Yagelski at 873-1461, Ext #333, or e-mail

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