Oneida County Sheriff’s officials announced late Thursday morning that Oneida County Medical Examiner Traci England has been arrested following an investigation into how she handled human remains and evidence.
England, 44, of Rhinelander, made an initial appearance in Oneida County Circuit Court early Thursday afternoon. She was released on a $5,000 signature bond after being held for a short time in the county jail.
According to Oneida County District Attorney Mike Bloom, who reviewed the investigation files late Thursday morning, no complaint has yet been filed against England. However, Bloom said that the joint investigation by Oneida and Forest County sheriff’s departments yielded evidence of the wrongdoing and misconduct of office.
According to Bloom, England and a deputy from the Oneida County Sheriff’s Department traveled to Fond du Lac County on Jan. 3 to take part in the autopsy of a recently deceased Oneida County citizen. Oneida County contracts with Fond Du Lac County to perform autopsies of Oneida County residents, as there are not sufficient facilities in this county to perform these services. Bloom said that nothing out of the ordinary occurred during the autopsy, but on their way back to Oneida County following the autopsy, England disclosed to the deputy that she had removed a portion of the deceased citizen’s spine and had placed it on ice in her medical bag. “She stated to the deputy that her intent was to use the portion of human tissue to train a pet dog to be a cadaver dog,” said Bloom. “It became immediately obvious to the deputy that this was not proper procedure, and an investigation was begun.”
As a condition of her signature bond, England is not allowed to work with or have custody of human remains.
According to Bloom, England’s reason for training her dog to be a cadaver dog was to take part in investigations as a “side business”.
“As far as I know, the dog Ms. England was training has no connections to Oneida County in any way,” said Bloom. “This action was entirely on her own without the county’s knowledge.” Bloom said the investigation is ongoing to determine if this incident was the first time England had removed human material for canine training purposes.
According to a statement released by Oneida County Human Resources Director Lisa Charbarneau, England has been placed on administrative leave. The medical examiner’s office will continue to provide service to the county through its deputy medical examiners.
“Oneida County has six deputy medical examiners who can perform the actions of the County Medical Examiner in her stead in Oneida and Forest counties,” said Charbarneau. “They are limited-term employees that are hired on an as-needed basis, and that arrangement will continue. Charbarneau said that the main function of the Medical Examiner’s office is to officially pronounce a person as deceased, although there are “various administrative duties” that also are contained in the job description. In addition to Oneida County cases, the Oneida County Medical Examiner’s office has handled cases in Forest County for the last three years. The department reports to the county’s Law Enforcement and Judiciary Committee.
“As this department runs on an as-needed basis, we anticipate that the deputy examiners will pick up the slack,” said Charbarneau. “There will not be a lapse in service.” Charbarneau said that the deputies, who were appointed by England, are all county citizens with a medical background. They live in various locations throughout the county to make for faster response times.
England’s actions were investigated by the Forest and Oneida County sheriff’s departments. She was charged of misconduct in public office and theft. Her next appearance is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 30, at 2:30 p.m., in Oneida County Circuit Court Branch II. Reserve Judge Conrad “C. A.” Richards is presiding over the case.