COLUMBIA CITY — Whitley County’s new coroner will get to spend his retirement doing what he loves. Randy Dellinger, who was elected in November as county coroner, has been interested in crime scene investigation for many years.
The passion was born from 28 years as a law enforcement officer, it was nurtured during his eight years as deputy coroner under Scott Smith and grew while taking a crime scene investigation class at the Indiana State Police Academy.
“It was meaningful work and I liked it,” Dellinger said.
After 24 years as a Whitley County Sheriff Deputy, Dellinger retired Dec. 31, 2012. Anticipating his retirement and seeing the office come open, were the factors that inspired him to run for the coroner position.
“I was hoping to do things I like to do and do meaningful investigations,” he said.
One goal Dellinger has in office is organizing coroner records and making them accessible for whoever does the job.
“It is my intent when I am done with a case the records should be stored at the county facility,” he said. “That is where they should be. It is a government facility and they are government records.”
Dellinger has a strong belief for this because of difficulties he has had pursuing records from coroners. Many coroners in and out of the county have kept their offices in their homes or at a business. When they would leave office, the records would often leave with them.
“It could be a situation where the coroner died, but his wife is still alive, so you have to find her,” Dellinger said. “Or there was a case once where the records were stored in a basement. The basement flooded and the records were destroyed.”
Thus, Dellinger will not only try to store records from his time in office, but he also wishes to obtain what he can from former coroners.
“You just never know when somebody is going to want to know something,” he said. “I want to preserve and maintain our records in the best way we can.”
For now, Dellinger has spent his first few weeks settling into the new position. He has made a few courtesy calls, and has been setting up his office, which is now in the basement of the sheriff’s department.
He has been married to his wife, Debra, for 32 years and has four children and 10 grandchildren, who all live in the area. If that were not enough to make him feel at home, Dellinger is reporting to work each day at the same building that he spent so much time at as a deputy sheriff.
“I know everybody I see,” he laughed.
Going forward, the new coroner cannot foresee every challenge that will come his way. There will be investigations during his time in office that he cannot envision at present, but he has a clear idea of how he wants to spend his term as coroner.
“My primary goal is to do a complete and thorough investigation,” he said. “I want to treat everyone with respect. Hopefully the people I work with are satisfied with the services. In the end, with forensic investigations, we are searching for the truth. My goal is to give the truth as best as we can know it.”