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Coroner: Inquests

A coroner's inquest is a public inquiry held to determine the manner of death, or how the death occurred.  It's not a criminal or civil action.  A jury of six volunteers from the petit jury at the Peoria County Courthouse report to the Peoria County Coroner's Office generally on Tuesday or Thursday most weeks.  Their length of service is one day, and there may be as few as two inquests to as many as ten inquests scheduled on that day.  

Jurors listen to a casesummary of information presented by the Coroner and, when appropriate, hear testimony from law enforcement and/or others involved in investigating a death.  It's the jury's responsibility to determine the manner of death either Homicide, Suicide, Accident, Natural, or Undetermined should the circumstances still be in question at the conclusion of the inquest or if the jurors are unable to unanimously agree on the manner of death.

In Peoria County, all deaths where the circumstances are obviously unnatural or in question, the cause of death may be interpreted as natural or unnatural, or your loved one was in police custody when death occurred move forward to inquest as determined by the Coroner once all final reports are available regarding the death.  The incidents that occur leading to the death may have occurred either inside or outside Peoria County.  All were pronounced dead in Peoria County therefore under the jurisdiction of the Peoria County Coroner as per state statute. 

Family of the deceased and anyone else who requests notification of the date and time of inquest are notified by phone about one week in advance of the date and time the inquest is scheduled.  If notification is unable to be accomplished by phone, written notification is sent via U.S. Mail to the address(es) listed on coroner's records.  In addition, the inquest schedule is faxed to local media.  If you would like to be notified of the date and time of an inquest; you may call (309)669-2000, email coroner's secretary at jshepler@peoriacounty.org, or check the inquest schedule posted on the coroner's website. 

Attendance at an inquest is not required unless summoned by the Coroner.  Only jurors have the opportunity to ask questions during an inquest.  Family members who are present are able to make a statement or share information during the inquest regarding their loved one.  Questions may be asked by others prior to and following the inquest. 

A court reporter is present to transcribe all statements made and testimony given during the inquest and produce the official inquest transcript.  A copy of the inquest transcript may be obtained by anyone after paying the statutory fee and completing a Freedom of Information request form.  The cost of the transcript as detailed in State Statute 55 ILCS 5/4-7001, revised in July, 2010 by SB2529, is $5.00 per page.  

Coroner Johnna Ingersoll held 278 Inquests at the Peoria County Coroner's Office in 2015.  The manners of death for these Inquests were as follows: 

Accidental - 177

Homicides - 24

Natural - 41

Suicides - 30

Undetermined - 6

Coroner and staff worked with 41 Fire and Law Enforcement Agencies regarding the investigation of these 278 deaths that moved forth to Inquest in 2015.  The Fire and Law Enforcement Agencies are as follows.  Those agencies within Peoria County are in bold print.   

Abingdon Police Department, Bartonville Police Department, Bloomington Police Department, Bureau County Sheriff's Office, Clinton Police Department, Davenport Iowa Police Department, East Peoria Police Department, Fairbury Police Department, Fulton County Sheriff's Office, Galesburg Police Department, Henry County Sheriff's Office, Henry Hill Correctional Center, Illinois Department of Corrections, Illinois River Correctional Center, Illinois State Police, Jacksonville Police Department, Kewanee Police Department, Knoxville Police Department, Knox County Sheriff's Office, LaSalle County Sheriff's Office, Limestone Fire Department, Livingston County Sheriff's Office, Macomb Police Department, Mendota Police Department, Normal Police Department, Ottawa Police Department, Pekin Police Department, Peoria City Police Department, Peoria County Sheriff's Office, Peoria Fire Department, Peoria Heights Police Department, Peru Police Department, Putnam County Sheriff's Office, Rock Island City Police, Rock Island County Sheriff's Office, Spring Valley Police Department, Streator Police Department, Tazewell County Sheriff's Office, Tremont Police Department, Washington Police Department, and Woodford County Sheriff's Office. 

 

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