Lawsuit accuses Ky. coroner of leaving body in hot SUV overnight

A coroner in Kentucky is accused of leaving a body inside a hot car instead of properly placing it in a freezer. (Source: WKYT)
Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 10:53 PM EDT
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MORGAN COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - Several Morgan County officials are facing a lawsuit, including the county’s former coroner, Raymond Vancleave.

The lawsuit says Vancleave mishandled and abused the corpse of Nathan Peyton.

On December 30th last year, Peyton’s brother, Basill Peyton, says he went to check on him, but he wouldn’t answer.

“I went and called 9-1-1, and it starts from there. A nightmare,” said Basill.

Basill says he saw his brother’s body in good condition, but a couple of days later, the lawsuit says that day was unseasonably warm and alleges Morgan County Coroner Raymond Vancleave did not have privileges to put the body in a freezer at any local facilities. So, instead, the body was left in a body bag inside Vancleave’s hot vehicle, and that, in turn, affected services for Nathan.

“When they buried him, he had to remain in the body bag. Closed casket,” Basill said. “People actually got sick from the odor that was emanating from the casket.”

Instead of saying goodbye to their loved one, they were asking a question: How could this happen? It’s one Basill wants to have answered to ensure no one else has to endure what he says happened to his brother.

“It’s not something you put on a high standard like you would a sheriff or governor, but they can affect your life more than you’d ever imagine,” Basill said.

Vancleave has since resigned.

Former Morgan County Judge-Executive John Stacy and multiple magistrates are also named in the lawsuit. It claims they should have known of Vancleave’s negligent and reckless behavior.