Staff shakeup at Coroner’s Office
Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - There appears to be a shakeup at the Calcasieu Coroner’s Office.
Charlie Hunter was the office’s longtime chief investigator and operations manager - having worked there 17 years. But he resigned last week, telling KPLC he wanted to pursue a business he started in 2020, “Gulf Coast Forensic Solutions.”
Over recent weeks KPLC has been looking into reports of resignations at the Coroner’s Office - resignations that in some cases were not accepted, then later accepted.
In Hunter’s case, this was the second time he resigned this year. KPLC first learned he tried to resign in March, but Coroner Dr. Terry Welke refused to accept his resignation.
But the other four other employees on the Coroner’s Office’s small staff of six then resigned and only opted to stay once Welke accepted Hunter’s resignation.
Welke would not elaborate on the reason for their resignations except to say there was conflict in the office.
KPLC has filed public records request abut the resignations from the Coroner’s Office. Welke says he is working to fill those.
As far as his departure, Hunter says he’s “helping to repair cemeteries after disasters” all over the country, as he says always has.
Gulf Coast Forensics Solutions’ website shows the company also offers digital forensics and training. Posts show the company regularly provides training seminars, sometimes taught by local law enforcement officers.
The Coroner’s Office has a sign that it is currently closed. Welke says that is because of asbestos remediation, however, workers can be reached by phone if needed.
Megan Leboeuf has been named the department’s chief investigator. Sarah Drawl has been appointed office manager. And Welke says a receptionist will be hired.
Hunter released the following statement to KPLC:
In response to an inquiry from KPLC, I would like to confirm my voluntary resignation from my position as the Chief Investigator at the Calcasieu Parish Coroners Office which was effective April 12, 2023. I have served the citizens of Calcasieu Parish for over 17 years and had the opportunity to work with truly amazing people. After months of thought, discussion with family, and prayer, I made the decision to resign with the focus on entering the private business world.I have recently started a company, Gulf Coast Forensic Solutions, which I hope to make into a successful area business. One area will focus on the restoration of damaged cemeteries from natural disasters. My goal is to not only help the citizens of Calcasieu and surrounding parishes, but to help restore damaged cemeteries for families across the country. This goal, and dream, will require much time and dedication; however, I feel I am ready to take that chance at this time.
It has been the honor of my life to work alongside of so many in law enforcement, District Attorneys office, medical services, and for the citizens of Calcasieu Parish. My career has allowed me to meet some of the best people in the world during some of the most difficult times. Beginning this career directly out of college to becoming a board-certified death investigator and expert in the field of death investigations is something I could have only dreamed of as a child. During my career, we have survived multiple hurricanes, floods, snowstorms, and even a global pandemic. My heart is full of all I have been able to accomplish personally as well as together as an office over the last 17 years.
I will continue to be part of the Calcasieu Parish community and look forward to my upcoming challenge.
Charles “Charlie” Hunter, Jr.
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