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Coroner's Office

March 15, 1998

In your March 1 report on the saga that resulted when the county coroner switched two bodies by mistake, county officials are quoted as saying there have been only three "mix-ups" since 1990.

We recently discovered from the coroner's office, quite inadvertently, that our son committed suicide in April 1988 by stepping in front of a train. The coroner cremated him later in 1988 and buried his ashes in a mass grave for unclaimed bodies at the county cemetery in 1991. We lived in L.A. at the time and made desperate efforts to locate him--missing person reports, dental records and fingerprints circulated, a private detective, countless phone calls to relevant officials, including the coroner--all while the body still resided in a coroner's crypt.

We are still trying to prod the bureaucracy into researching what happened. He apparently was identified in 1991 through dental records (which we supplied in 1988), but why three years after the fact, and why weren't we notified? There are other mysteries, but in any case, ours is another mix-up to add to the three acknowledged in the article.

Maybe there have been more mix-ups. Maybe something's "broke" that can be fixed.

SAM ORR, Penasco, N.M.

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