News10NBC Investigates: Bello changes ME, crime lab policies after News10NBC exposes 9-month wait to ID missing man

Monroe County making changes in medical examiner’s office

The News10NBC Team details breaking News, Traffic and Weather.

Maureen Harrison spent the last 12 months looking for her missing son, Sean Marrero. What she did not know when she searched was that his body was lying in the county morgue, untested and unidentified.

But now as a result of her story with New10NBC, the Monroe County executive is ordering changes.

Adam Bello watched our story last week and started an internal review of the Medical Examiner’s office and county crime lab.

“And when I first learned about this about a week ago, I was angry. This made me mad,” Bello said in his office Friday morning.

Marrero went missing in January 2022. His body was recovered from the Genesee River in April. So, by the time his mother was searching for him in October, his remains had been in the county morgue for six months.

He wouldn’t be identified for another three months.

“That one identified a problem, Sean’s case,” Bello said. “That was a problem.”

As a result, here are the changes the county executive is making.

        – a new team at the ME’s office in charge of regular reviews of open cases of unidentified people.
        – a new administrator to allow the ME and her investigators to focus on the medical work.
        – a family liaison.
        – and a new manager at the county crime lab to oversee the timely process of DNA testing for unidentified people.

Brean: “Is this going to help prevent another Sean Marrero case?”
Adam Bello, Monroe County Executive: “That’s the goal.”

“How unfortunate it took for Sean to be in there for such a long time, for those nine months, that we weren’t notified,” Maureen Harrison said when she learned about the changes. “But how wonderful going forward that other families won’t have to walk in our shoes and walk our path.”

The county executive called the senior staff from the ME’s office and crime lab to the same conference table where he and I met.

The internal review showed the remains of seven unidentified people that forensic science can work on.

Brean: “Did that start in the last week?”
Bello: “No no no no.”
Brean: “That’s been going on.”
Bello: “Yes, that’s been ongoing. But I can assure you …”
Brean: “But you told (your senior staff at the ME’s office and crime lab) – I want to get answers to this.”
Bello: “That’s exactly what I said. I said on day one I want to know the full scope of every remain that we have at the ME’s office, whether it’s a bone fragment from the ’70s or whether it’s somebody who was turned over to the ME’s office last weekend.”

Bello said after his week-long review he saw two problems he wanted to fix: the length of time to test the DNA of an unidentified person and communication with families.