Within the last few weeks Ector County has seen a spike in homicides. All of the bodies need an autopsy but with the closure of the Permian Basin forensic center, a timely autopsy is hard to get around here.
The Permian Basin Forensic Center is not performing anymore autopsies because it lost the only forensic pathologist.
"Without a forensics pathologist, we are throwing money out the door. " Said Judge Susan Redford of Ector County.
The owner of the center is based out of Beaumont. They are willing to give the center to Ector County to begin autopsy services again. But this would be a big responsibility for Ector County.
"One huge obstacle is are we going to be able to find a forensic pathologist that is certified that will come." Said Judge Redford.
And its a huge costs. A conservative estimate of pathologist's yearly salary is 200,000 dollars.
"Their salaries are more than the county has budgeted." Said Judge Redford.
But this steep price tag may be worth it. Autopsy services in Tarrant County costs $140,000 a year. This does not include the $55,000 a year to transport the bodies.
"Obviously there is a fact of transpiration that increases." Said Shirley Standefer, Chief Investigator of Ector County Medical Examiner's Office.
Also Tarrant County's turnaround is slow because of its high autopsy volume. So the Medical Examiner Office has looked to other centers.
"There is a Lubbock facility that we have never used before so we are kind of using them right now." Said Shirley Standefer.
But with the recent increase in homicides, Ector County would benefit from the Permian Basin Forensic Center back in action.
"Obviously the best thing would be the Permian Basin but there not open so that's puts us back to spending a lot more money."
Also if the county was to take control of the center, they will receive additional revenue from other counties using their autopsy services. June 13ths, Commissioners Court will decide weather its more beneficial to take control of the forensic center or to continue sending bodies to Tarrant County and Lubbock.