Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.

News

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

Support your source for local news!
Today, put a dollar value on the trustworthy reporting you rely on all year long. The local news you read here every day is crafted for you, but right now, we need your help to keep it going. In these uncertain times, your support is even more important. We can't hold those in power accountable and uplift voices from the community without your partnership. Thank you.

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.

Support for LAist comes from

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.

Most Read