Record homicides cause pandemic of its own for Hinds County Coroner’s Office

Published: Jan. 6, 2022 at 8:30 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Escalating violence in the Capitol City lead to record homicides in 2021. Numbers that exceeded the previous year.

“Two years in a row, record breaking years,” said Sharon Grisham-Stewart.

For the county’s medical examiner, 2020 and 2021, during the outbreak, shattered homicide records, pushing her and her staff of four medical examiners to the limit.

“The number of homicide victims, as well as COVID deaths, caused us to be in a pandemic of our own,” said Grisham-Stewart.

The coroner’s office recorded 159 homicides in 2021, with just three in the county.

“During 2020 and 2021, I saw more children and juveniles who were victims than any of the years that I have been coroner before,” said the mother of two.

When the medical examiner took the job 23 years ago, the county averaged 48 homicides a year.

If not on a death scene, she is identifying bodies, on the phone with families, at hospitals retrieving medical records, researching or drawing specimens to submit for toxicology.

“It just baffles my mind how a human can do such harm to another human being,” said the coroner who serves as president of the Mississippi Coroners & Medical Examiner Association. “I would love to see people have more compassion and love for one another.”

During the height of escalating deaths in 2020, the county had no permanent morgue and no space to place the deceased. A space was secured in time for new record homicides in 2021.

Just days into the New Year, the death count continues.

“I’m praying that 2022 is not gonna be a repeat,” added Grisham-Stewart. “I’m praying that it’s not gonna be another record breaking year.”

The coroner’s office is currently working its second case of the year, which includes the shooting death of a 14-year-old boy.

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