Forensic Medicolegal Death Investigator I

King County   Seattle, WA   Full-time     Law Enforcement / Security
Posted on November 23, 2021
Apply Now

Public Health Seattle and King County is looking for people who are interested in becoming Forensic Medicolegal Death Investigators with the Medical Examiner's Office. If you have not heard of this type of position before, but are intrigued – please keep reading! This position will work in the Investigations section, a dynamic and growing group of 16 dedicated individuals who work 24/7/365. The positions will perform field and office activities related to the investigation of sudden, unexpected, and suspicious deaths.

As the only jurisdiction in the world named after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the most influential civil rights leaders in our nation's history, King County is a vibrant international community with residents that represent countries from around the world. It is a region with increasing diversity that cherishes the traditions of many cultures.
We have a deep commitment to equity and social justice and advancing practices, strategies, and policies that promote fairness, justice, and opportunity for all – in our workplaces and our communities. With this commitment, King County has adopted a pro-equity agenda to advance regional change and ensure that residents from vulnerable communities are incorporated into our emergency planning and public outreach efforts.
 To learn more, please visit 

Job Duties

  • Respond to and investigate death scenes; photograph, collect, and document evidence;
  • Lift and transport human remains, weighing an average of 175 lbs, in various stages of mutilation and decomposition;
  • Adhere to county mandated protocols regarding control and documentation of personal property;
  • Document chain of evidence, and adhere to KCMEO process and protocols pertaining to collection and security of evidence;
  • Effectively interview family members, witnesses, and notify next of kin of a death;
  • Effectively gather and interpret medical records;
  • Conduct investigations-typically by phone-to locate next of kin and arrange disposition of remains;
  • Complete detailed investigative reports;
  • Use KCMEO-specific software;
  • Work closely with law enforcement, medical providers, and legal agencies;
  • Release human remains and property to funeral homes. 

Experience, Qualifications, Knowledge, Skills

Being an investigator calls on a broad range of personal attributes from the physical, to the intellectual, to the emotional—and an investigator needs to be good at all of them.

  • The ability to talk to and get information from a wide range of people about uncomfortable topics, in stressful situations.
  • The ability to think on your feet – assess a situation and determine what needs to be done and how.
  • While staff are not expected to have in depth knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and legal and medical terminology before being hired, it is essential that staff have some grounding in the subjects, learn quickly, and constantly update their knowledge. 
  • The ability to lift and maneuver a human body out of often tight spaces, and remove them with appropriate strength, leverage, respect and dignity.
  • While the “in-the-field” aspect of this job is important, investigators spend the majority of their time in the office calling families and notifying them of death, researching to find next of kin, etc.
Experience, Qualifications, Knowledge, and skills:
  • A basic knowledge of human anatomy and physiological functions
  • Ability to gain legal and medical terminology, and health and safety requirements relating to decomposed bodies during the first months of employment
  • Ability to investigate and photograph death scenes, gather evidence; transport human remains, and secure, document, and control personal property and evidence
  • Ability to lift, maneuver, and handle human remains averaging 175lbs, in various stages of mutilation and decomposition
  • Ability to interview witnesses and family members, often in the midst of trauma, accurately document chain of evidence, gather information, and maintain detailed and accurate records
  • Ability to communicate effectively orally and in writing, and work with clients of diverse socio-economic and cultural backgrounds in a respectful and compassionate manner
  • Ability to establish and maintain effective relationships with staff, co-workers, law enforcement, prosecuting attorneys and members of the public of different cultural backgrounds
  • Ability to work reliably as a member of a multi-faceted professional team
  • Ability to maintain confidentiality at all times 

Supplemental Information

Forbes recently named King County as one of Washington State's best employers.

Together, with leadership and our employees, we're changing the way government delivers service and winning national recognition as a model of excellence. Are you ready to make a difference? Come join the team dedicated to serving one of the nation's best places to live, work and play.

Guided by our "True North", we are making King County a welcoming community where every person can thrive. We value diversity, inclusion and belonging in our workplace and workforce. To reach this goal we are committed to workforce equity. Equitable recruiting, support, and retention is how we will obtain the highest quality workforce in our region; a workforce that shares and will help advance our guiding principles--we are one team; we solve problems; we focus on the customer; we drive for results; we are racially just; we respect all people; we lead the way; and we are responsible stewards. We encourage people of all backgrounds and identities to apply, including Native American and people of color, immigrants, refugees, women, LGBTQ+, people living with disabilities, and veterans.

King County is an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Employer

No person is unlawfully excluded from employment opportunities based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation and pregnancy), age, genetic information, disability, veteran status, or other protected class. Our EEO policy applies to all employment actions, including but not limited to recruitment, hiring, selection for training, promotion, transfer, demotion, layoff, termination, rates of pay or other forms of compensation.

COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement
King County Executive Branch employees are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. If you are the successful candidate for the position you applied for, the County will send you a conditional offer letter.
As a condition of employment, prior to a final offer of employment, you will be required to:
• submit proof of vaccination or
• have an approved request for medical or religious exemption and an approved accommodation. Philosophical, political, scientific, or sociological objections to vaccination will not be considered for an exemption or accommodation.
People are considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19 two weeks after receiving the final dose of a vaccination approved by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The Executive Branch includes employees in the Executive branch, the Assessor’s Office, Elections, the King County Sheriff’s Office, and the Executive Office. King County is an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Employer.

To Apply

If you are interested in pursuing this position, please follow the application instructions carefully. If you need this announcement in an alternate language or format, would like to request accommodation or assistance in the application or assessment process or if you have questions please contact your recruiter listed on this job announcement.

Who May Apply
This position is open to all qualified candidates. We are currently recruiting for 2 Career Service positions and up to 4 Term Limited Temporary or Special Duty Assignment positions within the next 6 months. To qualify for a Special Duty Assignment you must be a current Career Service Employee who has successfully passed probation. Special Duty requires supervisor approval. Current King County Career Service and Term-Limited Temporary Employees will be given additional consideration in hiring.

Work Schedule: Investigators typically work 4, 10 hour shifts per week. This is a 24/7/365 office, with schedules chosen by seniority. New investigators train on various shifts, and then will move to night shift after 6-12 months of probation.
Work Location: These positions will be based at Harborview Medical Center, Medical Examiner's Office located at 908 Jefferson St. Seattle WA 98104, and respond to scenes throughout the county.
Application Process: The following completed items are required to be considered for this vacancy: 
  • NEOGOV/Government Jobs on-line or paper application
  • Supplemental Questions with complete, thorough answers. Answers that say "see resume" will be considered incomplete.
Your application may be rejected as incomplete if you do not include the standard information in the application. If you reference "see resume" on your application it will be considered incomplete. You must completely fill out the application with your relevant education and work experience. The selection process may include but is not limited to: evaluation of application materials and supplemental questions, interviewing, and testing. For more information on our selection process, please refer to
Contact: For more information about the application process, please contact Debbie Baker or 206-263-4053.

KCMEO staff are considered Mission Critical employees, and our office continues to operate at full capacity in inclement weather, public health emergencies, etc.
These positions are not eligible for remote work.
Staff may be required to play an active role in the event of a public health emergency, which may include changes in responsibilities and working hours.
  • The selected candidate will be required to pass a background investigation.
  • The selected candidate will be required to pass a Pre-Employment Physical
  • Employees are required to protect the privacy and security of protected health information as defined in State and Federal Law.
  • Employees are required to adhere to OSHA/WISHA guidelines including but not limited to completing their mandatory trainings on time.
 Union Affiliation:
 This position is represented by WSCCCE L1652- Medical Examiner

King County offers a highly-competitive compensation and benefits package designed to meet the diverse needs of our employees and support our employees' health and well-being.  Eligible positions receive the following benefits and have access to the following programs:

  • Medical, dental, and vision coverage: King County pays 100% of the premiums for eligible employees and family members
  • Life and disability insurance: employees are provided basic coverage and given the opportunity to purchase additional insurance for both the employee and eligible dependents
  • Retirement: King County employees are eligible to participate in a pension plan through the Washington State Department of Retirement Systems and a 457(b) deferred-compensation plan
  • Transportation program and ORCA transit pass
  • 10 paid holidays each year (plus 2 personal holidays)
  • Generous vacation and paid sick leave
  • Paid parental leave, family and medical leaves, and volunteer leave
  • Flexible Spending Account
  • Wellness programs
  • Onsite gyms and activity centers
  • Employee giving program
  • Employee assistance programs
  • Flexible schedules and telecommuting options, depending on position
  • Training and career development programs
For additional information about employee benefits please visit our Benefits, Payroll, and Retirement Page.

This is a general description of the benefits offered to eligible King County employees, and every effort has been made to ensure its accuracy.  If any information on this document conflicts with the provisions of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA), the CBA prevails.  Also, in the event of any incorrect information in this document, applicable laws, policies, rules, CBAs, or official plan documents will prevail.
NOTE:  Benefits for Term Limited Temporary (TLT) or Short Term Temporary (STT) positions, including leave eligibility and/or participation in the pension plan through the Washington State Department of Retirement Systems, will vary based upon the terms and details of the position. Short Term Temporary positions are not eligible for an ORCA transit pass.
For inquiries about the specifics of this position, please contact the recruiter identified on this job posting.

Describe your level of knowledge of anatomy, and physiology, as well as medical terminology, and how you obtained your knowledge.
Investigators see, smell, handle, and photograph decedents who have died through violence and/or who are decomposed. Please describe your experience with this. If you do not have experience, please describe how you would approach this situation.
This position handles evidence, property, and other confidential material. Do you have experience in maintaining the privacy and security of sensitive and confidential material?
  • Yes
  • No
If you answered yes to the previous question, please describe your experience with this. If you answered no please put N/A.
Death investigators spend much of their time giving tragic information with loved ones, and getting information from them. Please describe your experience handling these types of situations.
Describe your knowledge or experience with death investigation protocols. Please include where you obtained the knowledge or experience, your role and length of time in that role. If you do not have this knowledge, please describe similar experience and how you would go about learning death investigation.
Investigators must safely maneuver, extricate, and lift to chest height, bodies weighing an average of 175 pounds unassisted. Please describe your experience with lifting, leveraging, and moving heavy objects by yourself.
This position requires long hours of standing. Do you have the ability to stand for long periods of time?
  • Yes
  • No
This position requires long hours of sitting while talking on the phone and entering data into a computer. Do you have the ability to these activities for long periods of time?
  • Yes
  • No
Do you have a valid Washington Driver's License, or the ability to get one prior to starting work?
  • Yes
  • No
Investigators typically work 4, 10 hour shifts per week. This is a 24/7/365 office, with schedules chosen by seniority. New investigators train on various shifts, and then will move to night shift after 6-12 months of probation. The least senior investigator works night shifts over the entire weekend. If selected for this position, would you be able to work this shift?
  • Yes
  • No
Are you applying to this position as an eligible Current or Previous King County Employee Priority Placement Program Participant AND Is this position the same or lower percentage of full-time when compared to the position held at the point of the notification of layoff AND Do you possess the skills and abilities to qualify for this position?
  • Yes, I was given a layoff notice from my role at King County AND I am within two years of the effective date of my layoff. AND The position I was laid off from was the same or a higher percentage of FT status when compared to this one.
  • No.
If you answered yes to the question above and you are applying for this position as a Priority Placement Participant, to be considered, you must provide the following three pieces of information in the space provided: 1. The title you held when you received your layoff notice 2. The department you worked in 3. The effective date of your layoff

Required Question