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Legal-Guru, Criminal Justice Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
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Experience:  Experienced Criminal Trial Attorney since 1998.
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My sister died a sudden death in her sleep....She was 58.....I

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My sister died a sudden death in her sleep....She was 58.....I suspect an overdose ...but the police immediately ruled it a heart attack.....she had 4 bottles of vodka and 50 bottle of pills on her coffee table...yet no investigation or blood test or autopsy was I have any rights to try to find out why my sister died suddenly...we are all so upset and would like to have her body exumed..but we know this can be costly....could we possibly request an exhumation? Everyone seems to be blaming each other...(coroner, police, doctor) yet all we want to know maybe some sort of reason for her death ...besides a guess? Thank you JoXXXXX XXXXX
Welcome to JustAnswer.

I'm sorry to hear of your sister's passing. In order to exhume her body you would have to get a judge to order that her body be exhumed. You would need to hire a local attorney to petition the court to exhume her body. I cannot predict how a judge would rule on that but that is very rarely done, and I have never heard of a body being exhumed when there was not evidence of foul play.

Assuming that the judge did grant your petition you would likely have to pay a pathologist for a private autopsy unless the state/local coroner agrees to do so. Regardless of who performs the autopsy I think it unlikely that they could determine whether she died of an overdose at this point. Toxicology tests are done on blood and their would not be blood to test at this point. I have had some experience with toxicology tests on bodies with no blood, and although they may be able to take tissue samples from her liver, in my experience they cannot quantify those results from tissue samples the way they can from a blood test.

This would be a very expensive and time consuming process, and if you are successful in having an autopsy performed, you still might not get an answer as to her cause of death. My recommendation is to let it go and be thankful she died peacefully in her sleep, but, of course, that is a personal decision only you and the rest of your family can make.
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