Court documents accuse the coroner of "abuse of a corpse" and claim that he left a human body in "a sealed black body bag" overnight during warm weather
A Kentucky coroner who is accused of having left the body of a dead man to decompose in a hot car overnight is facing a lawsuit, along with several other county officials.
The Sept. 12 complaint, filed by Basill Peyton, the brother of deceased Nathan Peyton, claims Morgan County Coroner Raymond Vancleave negligently mishandled Nathan's corpse when he died on Dec. 30, 2022, according to multiple reports.
In the court documents filed by Basill, he accuses Vancleave of "abuse of a corpse" and claims that the coroner left his brother's body in "a sealed black body bag" overnight in a vehicle on an “unseasonably warm day."
Vancleave, who has since resigned as Morgan County coroner, did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
The complaint also named former Judge-Executive John Stacy, and county fiscal court magistrates Brandon Evans, Carter Bolin, Donnie Keaton, Darrell Patrick and Leroy Phipps, claiming they should have been aware of the coroner's past negligent behavior.
According to WKTV, when Basill found Nathan dead, the body was in good condition. However, the complaint alleges that "instead of transporting the corpse of Nathan Dean Peyton to the State Medical Examiner's Office in Frankfort, Kentucky," coroner Vancleave kept possession of the body inside his SUV for almost an entire day.
Nathan's body "rapidly decomposed," per the court documents.
The lawsuit alleges Vancleave had previously had his access revoked to the morgue, freezer and cooling systems at local hospitals due to his alleged past failure to retrieve bodies in a timely fashion, which county officials were allegedly aware of.
On Dec. 31, 2022, Vancleave allegedly transported Nathan's body to the state medical examiner’s office in Frankfort “for an autopsy that was not requested by the family” of the deceased.
The court documents claim that state medical examiner Sarah Maines noted that the body was “moderately decomposed.”
However, on Jan. 1, when the body was retrieved by a representative from a local funeral home, the condition of the corpse had further deteriorated, with court documents noting the corpse was "decomposed so badly due to mishandling" that the "smell emanating from the body bag was pungent and putrid."
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The funeral of Nathan, which took place on Jan. 6, had to be conducted with a closed casket because the level of advanced decomposition meant the body could not be embalmed, according to the court documents, which also claim that multiple visitors to the funeral home "vomited and became ill because of the foul and pungent odor coming from Mr. Peyton's coffin."
“When they buried him, he had to remain in the body bag. Closed casket,” Basill told WKYT. “People actually got sick from the odor that was emanating from the casket."
The lawsuit is seeking an unspecified amount of damages for Basill, who says he has "sustained and endured great and severe mental and physical pain and suffering."
A lawyer for Vancleave did not immediately reply to PEOPLE'S request for comment.
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