Prosecutor raids coroner's office

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Rich Van Wyk/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - The Marion County prosecutor raided the coroner's office Tuesday with a search warrant and a team of detectives. It is the latest development in a deepening criminal investigation of the office.

Prosecutor Carl Brizzi moved in with seven investigators, serving a search warrant on the Marion County coroner's office.  It marks a significant development in a criminal investigation that started five weeks ago.

"We are executing a search warrant because there have been allegations about the mishandling of bodies, missing documents, missing cash and again, as opposed to doing a regular subpoena, because of the nature of those allegations, there are missing documents, we thought the search warrant was the best way to get the documents we needed and preserve the integrity of the investigation," said Brizzi.

One case involved the alleged theft of $3,000 from a corpse. In another case, the remains of an individual were cremated before the person's family was notified.

The search lasted more than two hours. Detectives left with boxes full of evidence. Brizzi says they are seeking personal files, case files and other records related to seven different death investigations.

"We are talking about the possibility of theft charges, potential of obstruction of justice," said Brizzi.

Coroner Kenneth Ackles is a Democrat. Brizzi, a Republican, is in a heated race for re-election. Asked if his personal appearance amounted to grandstanding, Democratic challenger Melina Kennedy responded, "I can't get inside his head to know whether that's what his goal is."

Brizzi, who appeared prepared for the media attention, said he came to answer the coroner's concerns. "Because he is an elected official, give him the courtesy of what we are doing," he said.

Although aware of the search, chiropractor Dr. Kenneth Ackles stayed in his private office, and declined to speak on camera. Late Tuesday he released a statement saying in part, "We do not necessarily believe that any current employee of the Coroner's office has misplaced any personal items or property. If I find, or it is determined, that anyone in our office has been careless or violated the public trust in any way, they will be dealt with swiftly and appropriately."