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Freezer Breaks At State Medical Examiner's Office In OKC

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Freezer in morgue breaks down at OK medical examiner's office. Freezer in morgue breaks down at OK medical examiner's office.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

There was a chilling problem at the State Medical Examiner's Office.

The freezer in the morgue broke down leaving the staff scrambling for a temporary fix to the problem.

The staff has gained plenty of experience putting Band-Aids on the problems at the old building in the 900 block of Stonewall.

And they've done it again to keep bodies from decomposing.

"It's just one of many things failing in this old structure," Chief Medical Examiner Eric Pfeifer said of the decades-old body freezer that went out late Monday. "We've replaced compressors, we've replaced coils."

After years of costly replacements, the staff was left with no other option but to initiate a contingency plan and move the frozen bodies to the main refrigerator.

While there is enough room in the refrigerator to store the bodies, Chief Eric Pfeifer explained the thawing could compromise evidence.

"Sometimes it's preferable to have tissue for DNA and that decays over time if it is not frozen," Pfeifer explained. This issue, like many in the past, is why he has been pleading with the state for a new facility.

In recent years, the agency has dealt with all sorts of equipment problems including a broken refrigerator, X-ray failure and major flooding from busted pipes.

"They have been decaying for years, and years, and years and it's not a respectful way to keep remains," said Pfeifer.

He said replacing the broken freezer would cost about $40,000 and that is not a feasible option.

Evidence, a new facility is needed now more than ever.

"It's definitely effecting our work, but it's also in terms of money, I mean putting Band-Aids on this problem is just a sink of money and to me that's absurd," said Pfeifer.

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