News10NBC Investigates: GOP calls for investigation after News10NBC exposes delayed DNA tests
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Monroe County Republican lawmakers are calling for an investigation after News10NBC exposed how long bodies and remains lie in the medical examiner’s office without getting tested or identified.
The county is already investigating and when the original story aired, the county said what’s happening does not meet their standard.
But now News10NBC has new video that shows the county administration has been asked about this problem before.
The story focused on Maureen Harrison and her son Sean Marrero.
“Because people need to know,” Maureen Harrison said. “There are more people missing.”
One year ago, Marrero disappeared. His body was pulled from the Genesee River in April and taken to the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s office. But in October, News10NBC’s Berkeley Brean was with Harrison and her husband as they put up missing posters in her son’s neighborhood. Harrison had no idea that his body had been lying in the ME’s office for six months and it would take another three months to test and confirm his DNA.
“It’s torture that we went through,” Harrison said. “His children. Myself. You and I met before. We hung posters. We did podcasts. Sean was there the whole time.”
The county started an investigation the day of the story. There was a protest at the ME’s office Sunday.
Harrison was there along with other mothers.
Now the leader of Republican county lawmakers sent a letter to the administration.
“I’m asking for an entire comprehensive investigation of the Medical Examiner’s office,” said Steve Brew, (R) Minority Leader of the Monroe County Legislature.
Brew says he and his members have alerted the county about complaints of delayed testing at the ME’s office. His office pointed to this exchange at a committee hearing in October between lawmaker Paul Dondorfer and the county’s toxicologist. This was one week after I was with Harrison as she put up the missing posters.
Dondorfer: “Through the chair to the administration, have wait times for cases reduced in the recent months?”
Rebecca Hartman, Chief Toxicologist: “Through the chair, the wait times are consistent.”
Brean: “So you’ve been asking the administration about this problem before?”
Brew: “Yes we have.”
On Tuesday, the county executive’s office released a new statement:
“We have received Republican Conference Leader Brew’s letter. County Executive Bello shares the legislator’s concern, which is why he ordered a review of the policies and procedures in the Office of the Medical Examiner regarding the identification of human remains and timely notification of families,” county spokesman Gary Walker wrote. “The County Executive is resolved to understand what happened and to take the necessary steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”
Brean: “The policy in the Medical Examiner’s Office is that a body tied to a crime gets priority. I’m wondering if unidentified remains or people ought to have some level of priority in that office?”
Brew: “Well you would think that anybody that is lying in the morgue and is unidentified would have some sort of a priority because you know there is a family out there that is missing a loved one.”