WEST LIBERTY, Ky. (FOX 56) — A lawsuit has been filed against multiple Morgan County officials, including the former coroner, for allegedly mishandling and abusing a body by leaving it in a hot SUV.
The lawsuit stated that Morgan County resident Nathan Peyton died on Dec. 30, 2022, and was retrieved by the county’s coroner at the time, Raymon Vancleave, that same morning. Instead of transporting the body to a cooled facility or the state examiner’s office for an autopsy, Vancleave allegedly left it in a sealed body bag in the back of his SUV and parked it at his home overnight.
The body was taken to the state examiner’s office the following day, according to the lawsuit, but due to unseasonably warm weather, the body decomposed at a higher-than-normal rate. Sarah Maines, MD, of the Office of the State Medical Examiner, noted that Peyton’s body was “moderately decomposed” in the autopsy report.
Due to the decomposed state of Peyton’s body, the lawsuit indicated that the funeral service, held on Jan. 6, 2023, had to be conducted with a closed casket due to the “unbearable” smell that emanated from the casket. Multiple pallbearers, visitors, and funeral home staff reportedly vomited or became ill due to the pungent odor.
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The administrator of Peyton’s estate and plaintiff in the lawsuit, Basill Peyton, is asking for a trial by jury and punitive damages in the case.
Multiple Morgan County magistrates and former judge-executive John Stacy were named in the lawsuit, which alleges that they should have known of Vancleave’s behavior.
Vancleave has since resigned from his position as Morgan County coroner.