An employee of the state’s forensic office has been charged with rough treatment of the bodies in his care, including dragging one decedent down a flight of stairs with no stretcher.
James T. Schaeffer-Patton, 39, of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, is accused of having improperly moved bodies during his employment as a forensic investigator for the state’s Division of Forensic Sciences.
The Delaware Department of Justice’s Office of Civil Rights & Public Trust announced this week that a grand jury has indicted Patton on two counts of the crime of abusing a corpse.
In the first case, prosecutors allege that in January 2018 Patton used a ligature around a decedent’s neck to move the body out of bedroom and down a hallway at a north Wilmington residence.
The second incident occurred on July 6 last year at a home in Newark. Patton is alleged to have removed the body of a decedent by allowing the decedent’s head and other body parts repeatedly strike steps as the body was removed from the scene. The Attorney General’s office cites multiple New Castle County Police officers on the scene as describing the sound of the decedent’s head striking the steps “as loud repetitive thuds.” As in the case of the first incident, no stretcher was used for the removal of the decedent.
Families of the two decedents have been notified of the indictment, both Class A Misdemeanor charges. Each count is punishable by a maximum prison sentence of 1 year and a maximum fine of $2,300. The abuse of corpse statute says it is unlawful to “treat a corpse in a way that a reasonable man knows would outrage ordinary family sensibilities.”