A Bakersfield family says it has been three months since their father's death, and they still don't have his autopsy results. They say they can't get his life insurance money or any closure.
The Kern County Coroner's Office said it tries to get results to families within 90 days, but lately it's taking longer. The office says it's because there have been 29 homicides this summer, and they don't have the staff to keep up.
"I just want it to be done and over with," said Brittiany Thompson, Luther Thompson's daughter.
Three months ago, she lived with her father in a southwest Bakersfield home. Then, July 18th she found her 61-year-old dad not breathing.
"As soon as I got to the hallway I saw my dad, like, on the ground with his feet crossed. So, I ran to him and said 'daddy, daddy.' He didn't answer so I went to shake him, and I felt that he was very, very cold," said Brittiany Thompson.
Luther Thompson had terminal cancer, but was not being treated by a doctor. The law requires an autopsy be performed in deaths like his. The family was told it would take six weeks.
"We've been waiting three months already and still no results," said Brittiany Thompson. "That's not right to us."
Luther Thompson's body was returned to his family a week after his death and he was cremated. But, without the autopsy results they can't let go.
"We really want to know. That will give us peace once we find out what really happened to him, and then we can let it go and move on. But, without us knowing the autopsy results, we are still hanging onto it," said Brittiany Thompson.
The family also can't get Luther Thompson's insurance money until there's an official cause of death.
The coroner's office said it never finishes cases in six weeks. The staff tries to finish them in 90 days. But, because of a shortage of pathologists they're behind.
"We've had an ongoing recruiting problem. We've just had a hard time getting pathologists to come to Kern County," said Chief Deputy Shelly Castaneda of the Kern County Sheriff's Department.
The 29 homicides in Kern County since June are high priority cases and are handled before cases like Thompson's.
His family wishes that would have been communicated to them up front. "Can they let us know why they are not speeding up on this? Is there other people that's more important than him?" said Brittiany Thompson.
After we contacted them, the Coroner's office said it will prioritize the Thompson case and hopefully get the results next week.