​​​​​Cases under the jurisdiction of the District 21 Medical Examiner's Office (Lee, Hendry and Glades Counties) are transported by a contracted vendor to the District 21 Medical Examiner Office at 70 South Danley Drive in Fort Myers. Depending on the particulars of the case, the Medical Examiner performs either an external examination (called a narrative), an autopsy or records review.  The narrative, autopsy or records review is usually performed within hours after arrival at our facility.  In cases where the legally authorized person grants permission for organ or tissue donation, the autopsy would be completed the next day. An autopsy report is then dictated.

After the narrative​ or autopsy is complete, the body may then be released to a funeral home selected by the legally authorized person. Florida Statute 497.005(43) defines the succession of legally authorized person.

The legally authorized person can delegate the responsibility of final disposition to anyone he/she chooses.  In the absence of a legally authorized person, if the legally authorized person does not wish or cannot afford to make funeral arrangements, each County is mandated by Florida Statute 406.50 to dispose of unclaimed bodies of persons that die within the confines of their county. 

Veteran's remains may be eligible for burial or internment in the national cemetery in Sarasota, Florida.

The Medical Examiner determines the manner and cause(s) of death. The classifications for manner of death are:

    • Natural
    • Accident
    • Suicide
    • Homicide
    • Undetermined
    • Pending​

In some cases the determination of manner and cause of death will be dependent on additional testing for toxicology or microscopy. These tests can take several weeks or months to complete.  In the interim, the cause and manner of death will be pending. No information can be released on pending matters. The autopsy report will then be completed (finalized).  Anyone may ask for a copy of an autopsy report. Some exemptions apply as to the release of an autopsy report​ in accordance with Florida Statute 119.

Once the body has been released to a funeral home, the funeral director gathers information about the decedent from the family and forwards that information to the Medical Examiner's Office. This information is used to issue a Florida Certificate of Death.  The Medical Examiner's Office does not release Death Certificates to the family or general public. The funeral home files the Death Certificate with the local Office of Vital Statistics.  The funeral home can provide the family with copies of the official Death Certificate. Requests for death certificates should be sent directly to the Florida Department of Health Bureau of Vital Statistics at, or the Office of Vital Statistics where the death occurred:

Lee County​​ Health Department
Office of Vital Statistics                                       
83 Pondella ​​Road                                                          
North Fort Myers, FL 33003                                                            

Hendry County Health Department
Office of Vital Statistics
PO Box 70
LaBelle, FL 33975-0070

Glades County Health Department
Office of Vital Statistics
PO Box 489
Moore Haven, FL 33471L