Edit 3: As a going away present I present to you the Scrotal Rocket (it is done to help remove some gas from decomps). This is also goodbye, might answer questions randomly in the future. Later alligators. http://imgur.com/qSGn8FY (Some people may find it NSFL)

Edit 4: You guys are killing me, I'll keep answering questions throughout the next couple of days. Might take a bit to get to your question though!

Hi there. I started working at a morgue in the beginning of 2013 after graduating from university. I'll try to answer any questions y'all have about what goes on inside of a Medical Examiner's Office. I am an autopsy rat so I will not be able to answer questions about what happens on scene or the paperwork that gets thrown around.

Proof: http://imgur.com/P1LaLOV Sorry about the quality.

Edit1: Hi all, I am going to grab some food. Answer some more questions in a bit!

Edit2: Hey y'all, it is sleep time. Possibly answer more questions when I wake up! It has been a pleasure. Remember to wear your seatbelts.

Comments: 874 • Responses: 74  • Date: 

Alucard746577 karma

First of all, your username is fucking awesome. Second of all, out of the bodies admitted into the morgue, what is probably the strangest cause of death?

MorguenFreeman491 karma

One time there was a gentleman sleeping in his tent, and then a tree fell on him. Multiple blunt force traumas isn't a very strange cause of death, but having a random tree fall on your sure is an unfortunate way to go.

mc1313188 karma

Not a question but a story of my life. When I was 8 years old my uncle used to own a morgue so one day I was there waiting for my mom to come and pick me up but before that I had to go to the bathroom so I asked my uncle for some directions but the fucker thought that it would be pretty funny to actually send me to the room where they work with the bodies. I opened the door (remember I was 8 years old) and I saw a lady about 25 years old who had just died by being ran over and she was pregnant so the baby died too. I was in shock and I had some problems trying to sleep and eat for the next weeks until somehow I deleted it from my mind (for some reason your IAMA reminded me that episode of my life).

Oh by the way, three years later he died of a heart attack and he became one of the corpses in his very funeral company.

MorguenFreeman139 karma

Awh mang, I am sorry that this brought back that memory. At that age I could imagine that it would be difficult to forget the visuals that were introduced to you that day.

DirtyHippie68773 karma

You work are a morgue an use the word 'mang'?

MorguenFreeman180 karma

Yeah mang! I also enjoy using the word goobers to describe anything squishy or blob like in texture.

Shini-Gami166 karma

So, How strong is your stomach and How the living hell do you stay near corpses for hours?

MorguenFreeman300 karma

I'd say it is a bit stronger than your average stomach. However certain cases involving GI problems, or decomps still make me gag every now and then. You kind of get used to hanging around bodies after a while. However there are still some cases (mainly children) who invoke some sad emotions.

Dick-fore142 karma

What's the worst stench you ever smelled? Was it dead people farts?

MorguenFreeman354 karma

The gas expelled from the mouth of a 300 pound decomp as we flipped him onto his belly. It was one of the few times where I literally gagged. Was naaasty, tasted it in my mouth for a couple days afterwards.

AMA_requester125 karma

Were you paranoid someone would come back to life at any point?

MorguenFreeman287 karma

Haha not really, however it is creepy when you get someone who is still warm.

Pet_t-rex154 karma

still warm? how fast do the bodies come in?

MorguenFreeman247 karma

Some of the bodies can pass at 6:30am and be in the morgue for autopsy at 8:00am

techiebabe62 karma

A relative died at 0620, we arrived at this time and he had just gone but was still a normal temperature.

As we saw him again on the way out around 7am he was clearly cooling.

By 8am I was out of the hospital but I wouldnt have thought he would still be warm... So I am confused by your comment unless you live in a very hot region?

MorguenFreeman158 karma

I guess I should have said the bodies are very warm relative to the 4°C bodies that stay in the cooler overnight. However the internals do hold warmth a bit longer than the surface of the decedent. Additionally, it depends on the levels of fat on the individual.


So what do you do? I've always felt like coroners just kind of walk into a room to confirm that someones dead.

Do you just walk into a room and say "yep, he's dead" and move on?

Or is this more like Bones?

MorguenFreeman170 karma

There are certain reasons for an autopsy to be performed. If an autopsy is deemed necessary, we start the autopsy by taking a picture of the bag with the seal still attached. Open the bag, take pictures, flip the body, take pictures of the back side, flip again. We then take the vitreous humor (eye juice), take finger prints, and then open the body. The techs (including myself) then collect blood and urine for toxicology, and then take out the organs and give them to the forensic pathologist. The pathologist then looks for macroscopic abnormalities to help identify the cause of death, and then collects samples for histology if necessary. Then we sew them up and the mortuary picks them up and I am not sure what happens next. That is the cliffnotes version of what goes on.

Never seen Bones so I cannot answer your final question.

sttaffy64 karma

Why do you take the humor from the eye? What does that tell you?

ShhImHiding361 karma

He was just a little bit funny-looking.

MorguenFreeman115 karma

I had quite a good giggle reading that comment. I'm surprised I've never heard that before.

MorguenFreeman101 karma

The lab can compare the levels of chemicals (drugs, toxins, etc.) in the vitreous to the levels in the blood. The pathologist can use this information to get a better estimate of when the decedent was introduced to the chemicals.

funkyhiphop96 karma

Do they really tie the note thingy around the big toe?

MorguenFreeman156 karma

No D: But, we do use the red vinyl wristbands that you'll see at a concert or theme park. The ones with the little clicky buttons.

edit: I guess I should have said that we do not use toe tags, it appears they still do at other places.

perche94 karma

Ever tried sewing together spare body parts and reanimating the body?

MorguenFreeman227 karma

All day err day, with this song playing in the background: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BnOUOkcr9c

But no, here is the most sewing I do:


Rhana68 karma

Why one stitch on the top of the head?

MorguenFreeman141 karma

To keep the skull cap and brain from falling out!

dubya198281 karma

How do they determine who to do autopsies on and who not to?

There was a person I knew who recently died in their sleep at 30 years old. No known medical problems and no drug use. We were very surprised that there was no autopsy ordered, so really no one knows how/why he died.

MorguenFreeman78 karma

If there was a "traumatic" death. This includes:

  • MVA
  • Homicide/suicide
  • Accidental deaths
  • Overdoses
  • Others

Additionally if there was any suspicion surrounding the death or no previous medical history.

I would guess that the reason no autopsy was performed on the 30 year old was because he might have seen his doctor recently, and that doctor chose to sign the death certificate. They might have taken samples for toxicology but I am not sure.

m0untaingoat64 karma

This has never made sense to me. I read about a race car driver who hit a brick wall going like 120 mph and they did an autopsy. I would guess he died when he hit the wall at 120 mph. Why is it necessary for deaths where the cause is obvious?

MorguenFreeman140 karma

He might have hit the wall because he was intoxicated, possibly had a seizure that caused him to hit the wall, possible aneurysm? I believe that is the kind of stuff they look for in cases with an "obvious" cause of death.

Danouche36951 karma

What is an MVA?

MorguenFreeman87 karma

Whoops, motor vehicle accident!

Danouche36915 karma

Oh thanks for clearing that up!

MorguenFreeman101 karma

No worries! Don't forget to wear your seat belt :D

rseccafi75 karma

Unless we want a tour of where you work...

MorguenFreeman74 karma

This is very true. There are easier and less messy ways of getting a tour though!

DKTim72 karma

Oh wow! I am so glad you made this AMA, I have been dying to meet someone like you.

MorguenFreeman49 karma


meatballsubplz69 karma

Is there anything that an average guy like me can tattoo on his body to give an ME a good laugh the day they wheel my dead ass in there?

MorguenFreeman89 karma

Homemade / prison tattoos always give us a good laugh. Some guy had a bunch of nude-y ladies on him with massive and lopsided breasts, that also gave us a chuckle.

Edit: The doctors take pretty detailed descriptions of any tattoos so if you had an insanely complicated an abstract tattoo, it'll probably piss the doctor off a bit and give the techs a bit of a giggle.

Citizen_Erased8868 karma

Nice proof pic, loving the artwork! I'd like to ask, what was your first day like? Were you a bit nervous/ apprehensive about 'getting to work' on your first body?

Interesting AMA, keep up the good work and all the best in your future career, whatever you decide to do :)

(Upvote for Radiohead fan)

MorguenFreeman96 karma

The first day was interesting. I volunteered at an ER so I have seen a few people pass so the death part wasn't too strange to me. The smell and look on the guys face (it looked a bit like he was screaming) hit me pretty hard. I did get pretty nervous when I removed my first brain, and when I did my first evisceration.

And thank you Mr. Internet Stranger. I wish you the best in your future future endeavours. Oh and try to see Radiohead live, it is a surreal experience.

Citizen_Erased8826 karma

Woah, that's crazy. I'm pretty sure I would've 'lost it' if I saw that screaming face, so you must have nerves, or balls, of steel. So would you say volunteering in ER readied you mentally for what you see day in, day out at the morgue?

Radiohead are on the "to see live" list, I'm going to make sure it happens one day.

MorguenFreeman48 karma

It definitely readied me for the first day. Once I survived the first day it only got easier from there. That was until I experienced my first 300lb bloated and green decomp. That sucked. But after that, things got easy again!

captainkleenex59 karma

What did you do your undergrad degree in and is it relevant to the work you do now?

MorguenFreeman83 karma

Biomedical Sciences, which is essentially a biology degree with a chemistry minor. It is relevant-ish, I am doing this morgue job during my year off before applying to medical school.

postcava18 karma


MorguenFreeman52 karma

I am 22, but I cannot see myself doing pathology in the long term. It seems like a high stress job that is poorly compensated and the pathologists seem to be under appreciated. (This is only from experience with pathologists who work for the county)

MorguenFreeman58 karma

I could imagine a face down drowning with some decomp would be near impossible. Not sure if they have special ways of dealing with the bloaty-ness that can occur.

SuperPierog47 karma

What kind of music do you play in the background when you work? or are even alllowed to play music? i hope its death metal

MorguenFreeman56 karma

Sometimes, one of the pathologists has a degree in music so he plays some awesome stuff (including death metal). The other doc doesn't really like having music in the background.

xx_ClaireVoyant_xx36 karma

It's probably a pretty depressing job at times and I'm sure you have a macabre sense of humor. Is there anything funny that has happened while you were working?

MorguenFreeman99 karma

Sometimes when you flip the decedents onto their belly the gas escapes through their anus. I find the sound of a good fart to be absolutely hilarious. I also get a good giggle when someone pops a kidney cyst and it squirts all over them.

SuedoNymph45 karma

Have you ever made a patients... er... deceased's mouth move and make it talk like a puppet?

MorguenFreeman58 karma

Nope D: But! Sometimes when you reflect the scalp, their hair gives them a funny looking mustache. :O

emlabb22 karma

Reflect the scalp? I have no idea what that means.

MorguenFreeman80 karma


That is my next level drawing of how to reflect a scalp.

You essentially expose the skull cap so you can cut it with the bonesaw to take the brain out.

itzmedavid36 karma

Can't believe no one has asked. Have you known anyone who has gotten caught having relations with a dead body?

MorguenFreeman44 karma

Nope! I do work at a relatively small office though. Possibly in the larger cities (LA/NY/PHX) weirder stuff might go down.

Trollwake36 karma

What was the hardest instance of a body being returned to a displayable representation of what they once looked like?

MorguenFreeman95 karma

Corpse reconstruction is more of a mortuary thing, but train victims (people who jump in front of trains) seem like they'd be hard to make presentable again.

LitAFartOnce34 karma

I want to jokingly say that you make me feel much better about my drawing skills. Your drawings look frighteningly similar to mine. But my question is have you ever found something inside a body that was not supposed to be in there?

MorguenFreeman51 karma

Last week I found a bullet in some guy's cranial cavity! But aside from bullets, I haven't seen anything inside a body that wasn't supposed to be there. There have been some anatomical abnormalities that are pretty interesting but nothing foreign... yet.

Examples of cool abnormalities I've seen:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meckel's_diverticulum http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accessory_spleen

SipRefer41 karma

Wow! I was on death's door with Meckel's and had it removed along with 12 inches of my bowel. I am glad you thought it was cool...I sure as fuck didn't.

MorguenFreeman50 karma

It is a pretty fascinating phenomenon from a science point of view, but I could image it would suck a large donkey pecker to suffer from. Glad you're still around! Keep on living Mr. SipRefer!

King_Dumb30 karma

What has been the hardest autopsy you have had to do?

MorguenFreeman63 karma

Obese people are the most difficult, but children are always the hardest emotionally. The doc recommends autopsies on anyone under 2 years of age.

webbclar27 karma

Has your job caused you to change or develop any particular beliefs about death?

MorguenFreeman127 karma

I'll welcome death with open arms when the time comes. I've learned to not fear death because it can happen at any time and there is not a lot I can do about it. I have also been desensitized to deaths outside of my family. However if I were to find out a family member had cancer and was going to die in 5 weeks I'd cry my eyes out like a 13 year old girl watching The Notebook.

piercedprincesss26 karma

Please tell me eating is not allowed?! TV shows that show that disgust me!

Edit: spelling

MorguenFreeman89 karma

I am not sure what an ifs is :[

But if it makes you feel better... HOLY TITTY BALLS! NO ONE IS ALLOWED TO EAT THE IFS! EVER!

But no food or drink is allowed in the autopsy suite so I'd assume no one eats the ifs.

I_Am_Butthurt19 karma

wtf is "ifs"

piercedprincesss18 karma

An auto correct mistake :)

MorguenFreeman33 karma

Haha yeah, no eating in the autopsy suite. I was thinking ifs were some sort of crazy body part that I wasn't aware of.

hinduguru24 karma

What's the most mysterious case you've come across?

MorguenFreeman59 karma

There was a collage aged person found on their knees with their throat against a terrarium. A very strange scene without any medical records, but it turns out the guy had a history of seizures. Doc assumed that he had seized and then passed out with his throat on the edge of the terrarium causing asphyxiation.

Dolannsquisky23 karma

How can I find employment in a morgue?

I'm not a very social person, but I'm very meticulous, observant and like to analysis and work with my hands.

MorguenFreeman25 karma

I'm not sure about Canada, but volunteering at a morgue/coroner is a relatively common thing to do.

not_being_productive23 karma

Do you prefer white meat or dark meat?

MorguenFreeman100 karma

White meat :o

Weird fun fact: sometimes burn victims smell a bit like BBQ

Vmoney133720 karma

How'd you get your job/choose your profession? Awesome name btw.

MorguenFreeman37 karma

Haha thank you! I chose to do this during my year off before medical school! It is nice because there aren't many jobs where you get to use a scalpel without being a surgeon or doctorguy.

aznoobyboy20 karma

how long did it take to get used to being around corpses?

MorguenFreeman34 karma

After a couple autopsies I was used to being around the corpses, but it took a couple more weeks to get used to handling the bodies.

chancrescolex18 karma

Any good morgue jokes? Tasteless ones are fine.

MorguenFreeman95 karma

One of the doctors says this to people on their first day (assuming it is a female):

Hey Bob, can you please write down that the vagina is pussy.

Pussy as in puss filled, not as funny in text.

vinnythechin17 karma


MorguenFreeman25 karma

The pathologists can make some good money. It might also be due to the size of the county. One of the forensic investigators said her same job pays $16,000 more at another part of the country.

scooterbitch12 karma

what's your salary?

MorguenFreeman31 karma

Autopsy techs get paid roughly the same as other local government employees. From the webs: U.S. range from $11.06 to $21.69 an hour.

DearMrFantasy12 karma

Have you always wanted to go into this field of work? And if so, why?

MorguenFreeman39 karma

I never thought that I'd end up in a morgue while still living. But I am taking a year off before medical school so it is a great experience and resume booster.

webbclar13 karma

Do you know what kind of medicine you want to practice?

MorguenFreeman26 karma

I am currently thinking radiology! We took a field trip to a radiologist to look at some X-rays we took, and it seems like a fascinating profession.

SuedoNymph11 karma

How did you get this job? Was it posted somewhere and you applied? Or what?

MorguenFreeman21 karma

Yupyup, did some googling to find the site for the county morgue and from there it was just like any other job!

tehevets11 karma

Have you ever came across a corpse that made you question your career choice? Like something that made you feel sick, or depressed, ect. Also, what is your favorite horror movie?

MorguenFreeman23 karma

I don't plan on staying at the morgue for too long, but after the first couple autopsies you become desensitized to the majority of the stuff that comes in. To answer your question, nothing yet has came in that made me feel sick or depressed. Favorite horror movie would have to be Se7en! Great flick!

cahn11 karma

Has working in a morgue changed the way you want to leave this earth? or what you want to happen with your own body?

MorguenFreeman26 karma

Nothing too much has changed. However if I have an autopsy done on myself, I want it done by some pre-med volunteer who has never seen an autopsy before. Just because I would find it comedic if I was still alive.

CaptainRipp10 karma

How long is a body in the morgue before it get goes to be bury/cremated/etc? Also, what's your favorite band?

MorguenFreeman25 karma

Lets say the body comes in Sunday evening, the autopsy will be performed Monday morning and then in most cases will go off to the mortuary by Wednesday. I am not too sure how long stuff takes after that.

Currently my favorite bands are pre-King of Limbs (still a good album but not my favorite) Radiohead and pre-Royalty Childish Gambino.

funcookers8 karma

This seems like an awesome job to do in your gap year before med school! Do you think that considering all your cadaver experience, you're going to kick ass in anatomy lab?

MorguenFreeman10 karma

I hope so! I've heard eviscerations are a lot easier on preserved cadavers.

seriously_nachochees6 karma

When you do an autopsy what do you do with the body parts? If they're not a organ donor do they go back in the body?

Also do you ever interact with deceased's loved ones? How is that? Or is there a third party involved?

Edit: I meant organs not body parts :/ glad you understood what I meant though!

MorguenFreeman7 karma

The investigators do talk with the family. After all the organs are removed and checked out by the pathologist, they get put into a biohazard bag and sewn up back into the body! All the fluids get washed down the drain.

Mr_Weebles5 karma

What does it smell like in there?

MorguenFreeman36 karma

Sometimes it is effervescent and lovely, other times it smells like coupons and ass. But opening up the bodies has a bit of a sourish smell? Decomps smell a bit like nasty old eggs. Some GI problems smell like poo, because of the poo.

SuedoNymph8 karma


MorguenFreeman21 karma

Haha sorry, I took that from a Ralphie May bit where he was comparing white man dreads (coupons and ass) to black man dreads (effervescent and lovely).

Mitz_Fitz5 karma

Is it awkward when you get a hot girl in? Do they look weird?

MorguenFreeman45 karma

I haven't seen any "hot girls" around my age come in, but I would assume it wouldn't be too awkward. She'd probably be just as stinky on the inside as everyone else.

cat_dev_null4 karma

So what organs make the insides of humans smell awful? Is the stench from decay or do fresh victims also have the stench?

MorguenFreeman4 karma

The intestines stink up first. But with decomp you get a pretty universal sulfur-y smell.

slipperystan4 karma

How does a person get into this line of work?

MorguenFreeman6 karma

To be a tech or investigator, it helps to have a college degree in a related field, but you generally just apply like any other government job. To be a pathologist you need to do the whole med school bit. Some counties have coroners which are government appointed officials (do not require MD/DO) but I am not sure what is needed for that.

Brad_Wesley4 karma

How accurate is the movie "night shift"?

MorguenFreeman9 karma

Never seen it D:

I really need to catch up on the morgue movies.

Mindbeam3 karma

What are your religious beliefs?

MorguenFreeman7 karma

Grew up Catholic-ish, but don't really have any currently.

JavaPants3 karma

1) How do you determine the time of death for someone?

2) On a scale of 3 to 11 how accurate is most of the stuff they show on crime dramas?

3) Can you really pull a finger print off someone's arm (someone else's fingerprint, I mean. Someone who touched the arm) like they did in an episode of Castle

Edit: 3 being as accurate as a drunk Russian with a machine gun, and 11 being as accurate as that time Davy Crockett shot 2 lead balls into the same hole in the target (supposedly).

MorguenFreeman12 karma

Determining the time of death is more of an art than a science. There are certain things like the decedents rigor and livor mortis. You can also take liver temperatures over multiple hours and use some equation.

I'll give it a 7. Some is good yeah, some is bad no.

Not sure about fingerprints off of arms, you can take the skin off of someones hand (degloving) and put the degloved skin over your hand and use that to get fingerprints. That is kind of exciting!

lizardman823 karma

Do you do the autopsies? And is it sad working there?

MorguenFreeman7 karma

Yeah! I mostly work on removing the brain. I am trained in the general evisceration, but I am still slow and require lots of help still so I let the other techs do that. Generally the atmosphere is pretty happy, I work with a good group of people, but when there is a child things do get a little quieter in the autopsy suite.

monawoka3 karma

Have you ever had to work on someone you knew?

MorguenFreeman8 karma

Nope, if it was someone I knew they'd keep me out of autopsy for that day. If it was someone the entire office knew, they would send the body to a different county.

Slayer_Of_Nuns2 karma

What all do you have to do to become a mortician? And when did you realize that it's what you wanted to do?

MorguenFreeman6 karma

Morticians are the ones who prepare the bodies for burial/cremation. To do that it is recommended that you get a degree in mortuary sciences. But for the morgue, some counties have a coroner which is a government appointed official (doesn't have to be a doctor), but for counties with a morgue you generally have a pathologist who is someone who has received their MD/DO. And I am doing it as a job during my year off before medical school. I do not think I want to get into pathology in medical school though.

MooseRacks2 karma

Which character from six feet under do you see yourself as most?

MorguenFreeman3 karma

Never seen it D:

D3s0L2 karma

Ok the question everybody's thinkin: have you ever gazed at big dead boobies and felt the urge to squeeze?

MorguenFreeman6 karma

Nope D: but we do remove implants and they are fun to poke (when outside of the body).

hsmith7111 karma

What other information do you collect about the deceased aside from cause of death?

MorguenFreeman2 karma

From what I know they look for cause of death, estimate time of death if necessary , collect any evidence if it seems like a suspicious death. There is probably more stuff that the pathologist will look for but what I have listed is all I know.

throwaway_architect1 karma

I heard that dead people fart...

is it true?

MorguenFreeman1 karma

Yup! Especially when you flip them onto their bellies.

saskanxam1 karma

Have you ever had anyone come in with any weird requests regarding the bodies?

MorguenFreeman11 karma

No weird requests, the mortuary that we send the bodies off to might get some funky requests though.

Although not weird, we do get cases from a Reservation and we try our best to accommodate to their burial practices (placing the decedent into the fetal position among other things).

bsully310-2 karma

when will Half Life 3 be released?

MorguenFreeman6 karma

On a Tuesday. Not sure which one, but it'll be a Tuesday.