Lawsuit: Ohio feud has led to botched death probes

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Associated Press

Posted on February 25, 2014 at 5:01 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 25 at 5:01 PM

CINCINNATI (AP) — A federal civil rights lawsuit accuses a southern Ohio coroner of using deaths as political pawns in an ongoing feud with the local sheriff.

The lawsuit filed Monday in federal court in Cincinnati accuses Brown County Coroner Judith Varnau and her husband, Dennis Varnau, of disrespecting bodies and abandoning evidence.

The lawsuit says that as a result, the family of Hanson Jones Jr., of Ripley, will never know whether his August shooting death was a homicide or a suicide.

The lawsuit says the Varnaus left behind a shotgun and chunks of Jones' skull, later found by his sister, and never ordered an autopsy or tests to see whether there was gun residue on Jones' hands.

The Varnaus declined to comment, but Dennis Varnau defended his wife as responsible.

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