Body parts found during OWI arrest not likely to result in criminal charges, prosecutor says

MORGAN COUNTY, Ind. – An independent pathologist contracted by several Indiana counties had several body parts in the bed of his pickup truck when he was arrested on suspicion of OWI Tuesday night.

Brooklyn Police in Morgan County say they pulled over Dr. Elmo Griggs along State Road 67 just after 9:30 Tuesday night after receiving a call from another driver about a vehicle was was swerving on the roadway and trying to pass a semi truck on the right shoulder of the road.

Police say Griggs had a mostly empty bottle of vodka and a Yeti tumbler that also appeared to contain vodka in the truck when he was pulled over.  Griggs failed several field sobriety tests and blew a .154 on a portable breath test, police said.

During the arrest, the officer noticed several totes in the bed of the truck.  At least one was labeled “brain,” and another was labeled “liver.”

Brooklyn Police say Griggs told the officer he was a pathologist and he was transporting the body parts from location to another.  The Morgan County Coroner was called to the scene to take the body parts into custody for proper handling while the truck was being impounded.

While the find was unusual for police, Morgan County Prosecutor Steve Sonnega does not believe the transporting of the body parts will result in any criminal charges.

“Our coroner, who I’ve worked with, assured me that however the samples were packaged, labeled, preserved, that there was not an issue for public safety,” Sonnega said.  “There doesn’t appear to be any biohazard violations, any improper handling of samples.”

Griggs is an independent pathologist who is contracted by several Indiana Counties to perform autopsy services, Sonnega said.

The Marion County Coroners office is one county that has hired Griggs on a contract basis.  The office released a statement following his arrest.

“It has been brought to our attention that Elmo Griggs was arrested for OWI in Morgan County last night.  Dr. Griggs is a pathology vendor for the Marion County Coroner’s Office who provides autopsy services as needed.  He is not an employee and was not providing or performing any services for our office at that time.  Details of the arrest are unknown. The tissue that was reportedly found in the vehicle did not belong to any Marion County cases. Our pathology vendors do not remove tissue from our facility.  It is likely to be tissue from private autopsy cases performed by Dr. Griggs.  At this time, our contract with Dr. Griggs is suspended pending further review.”

An online profile says Dr. Griggs is also an attorney who has served as an expert medical witness and performed private autopsies for attorneys on other cases.

Sonnega said he did not know which county or which case the body parts in the truck were connected to.  It is not believed they were part of any criminal case.  Authorities were working to find out where the parts needed to go and get them there.

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