BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The crime lab in Biloxi still sits empty more than a year after state lawmakers funded the facility. That's because the state can't seem to find a pathologist who wants to take the job in South Mississippi.
Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove told WLOX News Now state officials have interviewed at least three doctors who have been offered the position. But all of them have turned down the opportunity to help solve crimes and bring closure to coast families.
Being able to do autopsies locally would also save time and money. Right now, taxpayers dish out between $600 and $800 to transport a body to the state crime lab in Pearl. That cost would be greatly reduced when the new facility in South Mississippi opens.
Meanwhile, the state medical examiner's office recently made some cutbacks due to costs. The office will now close between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. Coroners across the state are complaining about additional costs. They say the closure presents problems because they have to find a holding place for bodies overnight.
"It comes back then it puts a burden to the county. Basically doubling your transport cost of autopsies," said Copiah County Coroner Ellis Stuart. "During the overnight shift, there's been only 8% of the total cases that have come in come in during those operating hours."
The office says its on-call policy at the lab hasn't changed. An estimated 1,450 autopsies are performed at the facility every year.
Hargrove said the limitations on intake hours will not have an impact on cases on the coast. He reports there are places in South Mississippi to hold bodies until they can be transported to Jackson.