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Notifying next of kin


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  • Notifying next of kin

    I'm currently writing a story and in one particular scene a man is murdered around about midnight. As there were audible gunshots, neighbours immediately called the police, who promptly arrive.

    I was wondering, at what point would next of kin be notified? It's quite an important plot point for the victim's daughter to find out about her father's murder, so would LEOs/detectives call her or pay her a visit? Also, would they wait until morning to let her know or would they call her in the middle of the night/early hours of the morning?

    Any help would be appreciated.

  • #2
    Where I am at (California) the police would not make the notification. Once investigation at the crime scene is completed, the County Coroner (a separate agency) takes charge of the body and removes it. After confirming the identity, the Coroner's staff makes notification to next of kin. It could take a few hours to a few days, depending on how hard it is to confoirm the person's identity and determine who the next of kin is.

    Even when there is little information to go on, the Coroner's people are fairly good at what they do. Several years ago, someone I knew fell on hard times, became homeless and died where her body was discovered by strangers. I don't know how, but within six hours of her death, a Coroner's Investigator was able to determine that I once knew her and called to see if I could provide any information on next of kin.
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    • #3
      Where is your story set? Because here in NY, cops often make the notification. I've done it dozens and dozens of times. And we make it a priority to do so promptly, before they find out on the evening news.
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      • #4
        I'm in CA too. If there was a question about establishing the identity of the decedent or the death wasn't the result of a homicide the coroner's office would do the "routine" notification. While working an active homicide though, I have made notifications when information was needed ASAP from the next of kin and they lived nearby. It all depends on the circumstances surrounding the death.
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        • #5
          In Kansas we make them quickly because it is almost impossible to keep the news from putting it on in the evening or morning news. Usually a 2 man team will make the notification here.
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          • #6
            We make death notifications here and as far as the media is concerned, it's a 45 minute drive from the nearest TV station, so we generally don't have to beat them anywhere unless they are already in the area which is very uncommon.

            We also do it as soon as possible, as everyone has a scanner and it seems things travel by phone/rumor very, very quickly around here.
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            • #7
              Thanks to everyone for your help. It's greatly appreciated!


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