Iowa Association of County Medical Examiners

Las Vegas Shooting will be focus of 2018 IACME Banquet presentation

The October 1, 2017 mass shooting on the Las Vegas strip will be the focus of this year’s IACME Fall Meeting banquet presentation.

Tiffany Brown, Senior Coroner Investigator with the Clark County (Nevada) Coroner/Medical Examiner Office, will speak on Investigator Response to a Mass Shooting in Las Vegas: A Realistic Perspective. She’ll discuss the unique challenges posed by this terrible event, and also the impact the mass shooting had on MEs and MEIs investigating the case.

The Las Vegas shooting was the largest mass shooting in American history, with 58 dead and 881 injured. An Iowa woman was among those who died.

Watch your email for the IACME Fall Meeting and Education Expo brochure with all the details on this year’s program.


Funding increase will bring “much-needed stability” to IOSME operations

Iowa Chief State Medical Examiner Dennis Klein, MD said last week that his office finally has “good news” to report with regard to funding. A badly-needed increase in autopsy fees has been approved by the State Administrative Rules Committee and will go into effect July 1.

   “This funding increase will introduce much-needed stability into our operations,” Dr. Klein told the Iowa Association of County Medical Examiners Board of Director at a Thursday, February 28 meeting.

   The increase in autopsy fees from $1,400 to $1,900 will allow hiring of a new forensic pathologist. The IOSME staff was reduced from four pathologists to three upon the resignation of Dr. Julia Goodin two years ago. At that time, funding shortfalls prevented hiring of a replacement, and the IOSME began to experience an inevitable backlog that drew the attention of the media.

   Dr. Klein reported that Dr. Kelly Kruse of Baltimore will join the IOSME staff in July following completion of a forensic pathology fellowship.

   “We had three finalists who were all excellent candidates,” commented Dr. Klein. “We could have hired any one of them.”

   In addition to the autopsy fee increase, the IOSME has received an increase in infrastructure funding that will allow replacement of some equipment and upgrading of the lab.

   “And I’m happy to report that the IOSME has full accreditation as of today,” Dr Klein concluded.

Fall Meeting planning is underway

IACME Program Chair Dr. Dennis Klein and the IACME Board of Directors have been working since November to plan topics and speakers for the 2018 IACME Fall Meeting and Education Expo. This year’s Fall Meeting will be Friday-

Saturday, November 2-3 at the West Des Moines Marriott. Among the topics chosen thus far are:

   •Dual track sessions for Medical Examiners on cause and manner of death and concurrent session for Medical Examiner Investigators on case studies. MEIs will be asked to submit cases for discussion ahead of time.

   •Forensic anthropologist Heather Gavin

   •Speaker from the Des Moines Fire Department on how to approach death scenes that involve biohazards

   •Medicine Cabinet 101— On-scene investigation of drugs and combinations of drugs of concern to death investigators

   •An expert in sharp force injuries

   •NamUs — The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System

Watch the next issue of IACME News for more about this year’s program.


IACME President responds to Des Moines Register article

Last month, the Des Moines Register published an article on the funding shortfall at the Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner. IACME President Thomas Carroll, MD responded in a letter which the Register published the following Sunday. To read the letter, click on the link directly below. The second link will take you to the full text of a letter written to the Iowa State Association of Counties by the Johnson County Board of Supervisors. The letter expresses full support for the IOSME request to increase autopsy fees.

Dr. Carroll’s Letter to the Editor

Johnson County Letter of Support


Civil Unrest Body Recovery Protocol

On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown, an 18 year-old black man, was shot to death by a white police officer after allegedly robbing a convenience store in Ferguson, Missouri, a northern suburb of St. Louis. The circumstances of the shooting were initially disputed, and weeks of civil unrest ensued. Media from around the country and the world covered events in Ferguson, and the incident sparked a national debate about the relationship of local police and the communities they serve.

Terrance Ledbetter, F-ABMDI, a death investigator with the St. Louis County Medical Examiner, was closely involved in this case and shared details of the case with IACME Fall Meeting attendees at the Friday evening banquet September 22. He said that the extreme civil unrest surrounding the case began almost immediately as crowds gathered at the scene of the shooting. The decedent remained at the scene for an extended period of time, and the situation quickly escalated.

In the wake of these events, Ledbetter developed a protocol for body recovery in situations of extreme civil unrest. He agreed to share this hard-won knowledge with Iowa death investigators. Click on the link below to read the protocol.  Mr. Ledbetter has graciously agreed to answer questions about the protocol via email at

Civil Unrest Body Recovery Protocol

Dr. Sheila Holcomb, incoming IACME President, presents a plaque to outgoing IACME President Thomas Carroll, MD at the IACME Annual Banquet Friday evening, September 22. More details and meeting photos will appear in the Fall, 2017 issue of the IACME News.

2017 Fall Meeting a success; Dr. Sheila Holcomb elected IACME President

The Iowa Association of County Medical Examiners completed another very successful Fall Meeting and Education Expo Friday and Saturday, September 22-23 at the Coralville Marriott.

The program included presentations on social media forensic investigations, testifying in federal court, investigating scenes of drug-related deaths and forensic entomology. Terrance Ledbetter, F-ABMDI of the Saint Louis Medical Examiner office was the Friday evening banquet speaker, recounting events in Ferguson, Missouri following a highly controversial officer-involved shooting.

IACME elections were held at a member meeting on Friday evening. Sheila Holcomb, MD was elected IACME President. Dr. Holcomb is a family physician in LeMars, and serves as Plymouth County Medical Examiner. Others elected were: Kevin Locke, MD, Vice President; Julie Breiner, MD, Secretary-Treasurer; and Board Members Dennis Crabb, MD; Dennis Firchau, MD;Paul Jensen, MD and Barbara Harre, MD. All offices carry 2-year term that begin January 1, 2018.

An attendee list will be emailed soon to meeting registrants.

Next year’s IACME Fall Meeting and Education Expo will be Friday-Saturday, November 2-3, 2018 at the West Des Moines Marriott.

ABMDI credits for IACME Fall Meeting

The American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators (ABMDI) has approved the 2017 IACME Fall Meeting and Education Expo for 13.75 hours of continuing education credit for medical examiner investigators attending the meeting. Certificates of attendance (required by the ABMDI to claim the education credits) will be available at the meeting.

 Continuing Medical Education Credit—IACME Fall Meeting

Upon review of the program information submitted on the “2017 Iowa Association of County Medical Examiners (IACME) Fall Meeting and Education Expo” program which will be held on Friday, September 22 and Saturday, September 23, 2017we are pleased to inform you that the programs meets the criteria for 13.75 Category 1 Continuing Medical Education (CME) credit.

This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation requirements and policies of the Iowa Medical Society (IMS) through the joint providership of UnityPoint Health – Des Moines and the Iowa Association of County Medical Examiners.   UnityPoint Health – Des Moines is accredited by IMS to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

UnityPoint Health – Des Moines designates this live activity for a maximum of 13.75 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.  Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Monona County crash claims the life of a Dr. from Whiting

May 17th, 2017 by Ric Hanson, KJAN Radio Atlantic

A crash Tuesday afternoon in western Iowa’s Monona County resulted in one person dying after they were transported to Burgess Hospital, in Onawa. According to the Iowa State Patrol, 92-year old Dr. John Lee Garred, Sr., of Whiting, died from injuries he suffered when the 1997 Cadillac Eldorado he was driving turned in front of an oncoming semi just west of Whiting, at around 4:35-p.m., Tuesday.

NOTE: Dr. John Garred, Sr. was the original Monona County Medical Examiner and a long time member of IACME. He was well-known among IACME members because of his faithful attendance at the IACME Fall Meeting. The IACME Board of Directors extends sympathy to Dr. Garred’s family, including his son Dr. John Garred, Jr. 

 Dr. Garred funeral service/obituary

Focus on Case Studies at the 2017 IACME Fall Meeting and Education Expo

Michele Stuart, an Arizona private investigator and expert in the role of the Internet and social media in death investigation, is one of the excellent speakers confirmed for the 2017 IACME Fall Meeting and Education Expo, Friday and Saturday, September 22-23 at the Coralville Marriott.

Stuart, an instructor at Quantico for multi-country training programs, provides training to federal and state law enforcement and is a frequent author on the topic of Internet Profiling and Intelligence Gathering. She provides seminars on her specialized investigative techniques and has her own column in Professional Investigator Magazine. She will speak on Cyber and Social Media Forensic Investigations.

Julie Howe, D-ABMDI of St. Louis University will make two presentations at the Education Expo. Her first presentation will be an update on accreditation, certification and funding of medicolegal death investigation. Howe will also do the ‘MEIs only’ portion of a dual track session on the topic of scene investigation of drug-related deaths. The physician portion of the dual track will be led by Marcus Nashelsky, MD, a forensic pathologist at the University of Iowa. Dr. Nashelsky’s topic will be death certification.

This year’s banquet speaker is Terry Ledbetter, Board Certified Forensic Investigator with the St. Louis County (Missouri) Medical Examiner. He will speak on the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, a case which sparked widespread civil unrest.

Dr. Tim Huntington, professor of criminal justice at Concordia University and a board certified entomologist, will speak on Saturday. Dr. Huntington, who testified in the 2011 Casey Anthony trial in Florida, will address the role of entomology in death investigation.

Other topics addressed this year will be forensic photography, expert testimony in the federal court system and the science of decomposition.

“The IACME Fall Meeting is an excellent educational opportunity for all Iowa county medical examiners and investigators to receive up-to-date information and instruction that is directly applicable to death investigation. I strongly encourage ME’s and MEI’s to attend,” says Dennis Klein, MD, Iowa Chief State Medical Examiner and IACME Program Chair.