• Departments
  • Commissioners Court
  • Elected Officials
  • Courts
  • Justice of the Peace Courts
  • Constables
  • Employment Doing Business Our Community How Do i...
  • Apply For
  • Search For
  • Access
  • Pay
  • Register For
  • View
  • OpenBooks

    Forensic Death Scene Investigator 


    A forensic death investigator (FDI), also referred to as a medical investigator, medicolegal investigator, or medicolegal death scene investigator, may also be considered a “medical detective.”  Forensic death investigators are typically non-physician professionals who have education and experience involving death scene investigation and their role is to investigate any death falling under the statutory jurisdiction of the medical examiner, which includes all suspicious, violent, unexplained and unexpected deaths.

    The FDI is responsible for the decedent whereas law enforcement personnel are responsible for the scene.  An FDI performs scene investigations in much the same way as a law enforcement investigator, using many of the same methodologies, techniques, and tools, but for a different purpose.  Law enforcement officers investigate a scene and interview witnesses to establish the elements of a criminal offense, and if no offense is identified, the police investigation is concluded.  Forensic death investigators, however, are searching for information to assist the physician medical examiners in determining accurately the identity of the decedent as well as both the cause and manner of death.  To accomplish these goals, the FDI considers information developed from the decedent and scene, and determines the extent to which further investigation is necessary.

    FDIs have a combination of education and skills encompassing the areas of medicine and law in conjunction with ancillary disciplines.  Primary areas of responsibility for an FDI include interaction with local, state and federal agencies; communication between next-of-kin, law enforcement personnel, funeral home directors, medical staff and physicians and other entities to identify and develop information relevant to a death.  Scene investigations include elements of scene safety and protection, confirmation a death has occurred, identification of a decedent, photographic documentation of the scene and body, physical examination of the remains and documentation of physical changes associated with death, and collection of medications and evidence using appropriate collection procedures while maintaining a proper chain-of-custody.  FDIs also provide factual and expert testimony during trials regarding a decedent.

    Typical death scenes investigated by FDIs include those involving natural disease processes, injuries due to blunt or sharp force trauma, asphyxia (e.g., suffocation, strangulation, chemical, etc.), motor vehicles, assault or abuse, fire, poisons, electrocution, drowning, and environmental factors, among others.

    This page was last modified on February 27, 2015


    County Telephone Operator 817-884-1111

    Tarrant County provides the information contained in this web site as a public service. Every effort is made to ensure that information provided is correct. However, in any case where legal reliance on information contained in these pages is required, the official records of Tarrant County should be consulted. Tarrant County is not responsible for the content of, nor endorses any site which has a link from the Tarrant County web site.

    This site is best experienced with supported browsers: Internet Explorer 9 and above, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Apple Safari. If you use an older or unsupported browser, you might notice that some features do not function properly. Click the browser name above to learn more about the recommended browsers.

    County Seal

    100 E. Weatherford, Fort Worth, Texas 76196