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A New 'Coroner to the Stars' Is On the Job in L.A. County

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The Los Angeles County Coroner's Office has a new chief, and he's not only inherited control of the autopsy rooms, but also the sub-title of "Coroner to the Stars."Dr. Mark Fajardo, 49, came over to L.A. County recently from Riverside County, where he performed the autopsy on the remains of ex-L.A. cop and suspected killer Christopher Dorner. Now he's in charge in Los Angeles, and he's already had to handle the deaths of some famous folk.

Since starting his new gig, Fajardo has dealt with the suicide of actor Lee Thompson Young, the death of actress Lisa Robin Kelly while in a rehab facility, and the controversial death of reporter Michael Hastings, according to the Daily News.

But Fajardo isn't the first man in his position to get the oh-so-L.A. nickname: "The term ‘Coroner to the Stars’ was first coined in the days of Dr. Thomas Noguchi, who earned the nickname for his role in handling the deaths of Marilyn Monroe and Natalie Wood," explains CBS2.

Fajardo is replacing Dr. Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran, who retired recently after 21 years on the job. Already there are signs that Fajardo's arrival is just one part of a revival of sorts in the department, which has suffered low morale and challenging work conditions. Renovations at the offices will mean bodies will no longe have to wait out in the hall unrefrigerated, there is new equipment and supplies coming in, and more staff is expected to be hired. Plus, a name change has taken place recetnly; what was the Department of Coroner is now officially the Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner.

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His philosophy is to be "hands on," says Fajardo, which means many of the autopsies—including the inevitable ones for "stars"—will be done by him. Fajardo revealed in July he wasn't used to talking to the press, but like his predecessor, he hopes to delegate that spotlight to someone else on his team.