Last year (2021) was very busy with 305 cases, including marked increases in number of accidental deaths, strokes, cancer and a stunning increase of 500% in deaths due to drug overdose, with non-pharmaceutical fentanyl being the main toxic substance.

The coroner’s budget for 2021 was $33,400, including the coroner’s salary of $15,000 per year. In 2021, the budget was exceeded in the amount of $1,159, mainly due to increased toxicology expense. I was able to recoup $4,789 for the county in the form of three grants: Opioid Death, Toxicology Expense and Sudden Unexpected Violent Death. In addition, I have been able to cover cremation costs for indigents via grants from Community Foundation of the Ozarks, and working with our local funeral homes. This is typically a cost borne by the county.

A dedicated coroner’s vehicle was put into use this year, purchased with COVID-19 funds.

This year, I have testified at two hearings and was qualified as an expert witness at both. I have completed training as a Pediatric Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, and I am qualified to perform sexual assault exams on infants, children and teens.

Texas County coroner Marie Lasater.

In Missouri, 84% of coroner’s offices do not have a computerized system to file and manage cases. In 2019, I put into place a secure database to enable information sharing with law enforcement, and I’ve been busy uploading cases beginning from 1960 to the present, spending hundreds of hours in this endeavor.

My goal this year is to hire and train at least two deputy coroners to work on a per diem basis, as I don’t anticipate returning to an average caseload of 220 cases anytime soon. This year I investigated 174 deaths, and completed 170 death certificates (hospice and nursing home deaths are reported to the coroner, but don’t usually require investigation). I plan to set up deputy coroner training locally.

Statistics:  In 2021 there were 304 deaths referred to the coroner, consisting of 259 Natural, 35 accidental, 1 homicide and 9 suicides. Since 2018, caseload is up 45%, accidental deaths from all causes are up 150%, overdose deaths are up 500%, and cancer deaths are up 29%. Ischemic strokes are up 62% from 2019.

My full report can be found on the Texas County webpage (texascountymissouri.gov) under the coroner tab.

I can always be reached at 573-247-1672 with any questions.

It is my honor to serve the citizens of Texas County.

MARIE LASATER,

TEXAS COUNTY CORONER

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