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  • Writer's pictureStephen Hanks

Death Notifications: Everybody has someone out there who cares and who deserves to be informed

Notifying family (next-of-kin) is a primary duty of the Coroner’s Office, and specifically the investigator assigned to the investigation. It is a difficult but necessary part of the job, and one of the most important duties as it demonstrates our compassion, empathy, competence, and integrity in our work. The notification is where the investigator makes a first impression and connects with the family. This connection builds trust, shows respect, and allows the investigator to guide the family through the difficult process. It is essential that, where possible, these notifications be performed in person.

When a family lives in Larimer County the investigator should notify the family in-person, but not all families live in Larimer County so we must find where they live, and be confident that we find the correct family. It is important that we have accurate information to a high degree of certainty so that we can request a notification be performed by law enforcement in the family’s home jurisdiction.

I have experience using creative problem-solving techniques to find families when searches of our law enforcement databases failed to give me any information, or sufficient information, needed to establish the high degree of certainty I require before sending law enforcement out on my behalf.

I found crucial information to connect with families by using decades old newspaper articles, obituaries, social media, and other internet searches. I connected with family members who were traveling the world and others who had assumed their estranged family member died years ago. These families were so appreciative of my dedication and persistence. These are examples I share with other investigators so they to will succeed in their duties and never give up.

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