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Coroner promises changes after fetus wrongfully cremated

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LIVINGSTON- The accidental cremation of remains scheduled for autopsy in a feticide case is triggering changes at the Livingston Parish Coroner's office.

The Coroner's office does not have a morgue, and usually passes bodies on to a third-party funeral home for storage until an autopsy can be completed.  

Last week a funeral home worker mistakenly cremated the unborn baby of Paula Reynolds before an autopsy could show whether the baby was alive before it was killed.

Investigators said Reynolds was attacked by her husband, Jeffrey Reynolds, who they said slit her throat and then cut her unborn baby from her body.

"It's a mistake that should not have happened, it's something the parish will learn from," said Dr. Ron Coe, the parish coroner.

Coe said he's asked for a morgue for some time now, but to no avail.

"Money has been committed for a cooler," said Coe, referring to the system used to store bodies before autopsy.

Without an autopsy, prosecuting Reynolds may prove difficult.

"We have to prove that death and cause and manner of death is always an essential element that is a point of evidence and subject to the evidence in a case, without a body, without a corpse you can't do an autopsy and it's problematic to say the least," said District Attorney Scott Perrilloux.

Still, Coe is confident the case will have enough evidence to convict Reynolds and promises the mistake won't happen again.

Coe says all bodies the Coroner's office takes in from a homicide will go to the Tangipahoa Coroner for storage, until Livingston can secure a morgue.


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