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GFPD is investigating an unattended death

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Posted at 7:07 PM, Jan 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-04 15:32:11-05

GREAT FALLS — Authorities are investigating an unattended death on the 600 block of 13th Street South in Great Falls.

The GFPD said in a news release on Monday evening that there is no threat to the public.

No other details have been released at this point, including the suspected cause of death or the identity, age, or gender of the person who died.

An "unattended death" means that someone was found dead, and there were no witnesses to the death. Although some cases do involve criminal activity, most do not, and that is why the Cascade County Sheriff's Office has to investigate - to determine if there was anything criminal involved in the death. Non-criminal deaths can be due to several factors, such as an accidental overdose of medicine, medical conditions (heart attack, etc), and suicide.

The Cascade County Sheriff’s Office said that it investigates "all unattended deaths, suicides, homicides, accidental deaths, deaths which occur within 24 hours of admittance to a medical facility, and child deaths."

The coroner, based on the death investigation, determines the manner and cause of death utilizing the factors of circumstances surrounding the incident, medical history of the decedent, and laboratory/autopsy results in certain instances.

By law, the Sheriff or his designee (Deputy Coroners) must verify all deceased persons before the funeral home can proceed with a cremation.

Montana Code 46-4-122 states: “The coroner shall inquire into and determine the cause and manner of death and all circumstances surrounding a human death whenever the death occurred in a manner that was unattended or unwitnessed and the deceased was not attended by a physician at any time in the 30-day period prior to death."

If someone passes away due to natural causes and they are going to be cremated, the Coroner (Sheriff’s Office) must authorize the cremation. No cremation can take place until 24 hours has passed after the initial discovery of the death.

Sheriff Jesse Slaughter is the coroner for Cascade County and also has several deputy coroners who handle the day to day calls surrounding deceased persons.

Based on the state law mentioned above, they are required to work with funeral homes before a cremation takes place and once they authorize the cremation, the funeral home can then finalize the wishes of the deceased or their family.

We will update you if we get more information.