Chatham Co. coroner explains process for homicide cases

Published: Jul. 26, 2023 at 11:03 AM EDT
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CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - After a violent weekend in Chatham County, law enforcement is still looking for shooters in three homicide cases.

It’s also a busy time for another county office.

Chatham County Coroner David Campbell said his office has worked five homicides in the past week - three of those from this past weekend, and the other two, earlier in the week.

Campbell says that it’s an unusually high number, which is slowing things down.

“We started around 2 a.m., and when I came to work, I just didn’t go back home,” Campbell said.

Campbell and his employees, spending that time getting files started for the homicide victims. That involves working with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and local police departments, as well as tracking down medical records.

Several of the bodies from this past weekend had to be transported to Atlanta, as well, to be looked at by GBI medical examiners.

“It’s so busy between Savannah and Atlanta until, we don’t know when we’ll get the bodies back, so families can’t even make arrangements or finalize arrangements until we get an answer back from the medical examiner’s office,” Campbell said.

Which, for grieving families, can make an already devastating situation worse.

“It’s sad because you know, when you lose a loved one, it’s devastating to everybody. But when you’ve got to wait, and it becomes a problem, it’s nerve wracking. So, we don’t mind entertaining the cause when the family calls, wanting to know,” Campbell said.

Because of the nature of these cases, Campbell says they have to take precedent over cases of natural death.

“What I’ve been having to do is work in the natural deaths in between investigations and stuff like that with the homicides. It just pushes everything aside because we have to get on top of these homicides,” Campbell said.

Campbell added that families of those that have passed away are always welcome to call the office and that he and his staff are working to get things done as quickly as possible - while making sure that they’re done right.

Another thing that stuck out to Campbell was the age of the victims. In a period of seven days, he was surprised to see the bodies of people as young as 15, all the way to 48 years of age, what the Coroner’s Office classifies as young people.