Will This Family Get Any Reward Money?


TLDR: A sex offender goes on the lam before his sentence is up. US Marshals offer a $25000 reward for information leading to his arrest. Across town, family dog escapes the yard, then brings home a human skull. DNA analysis confirms that the skull belonged to the missing con. Case closed.

The family didn’t fulfill the letter of the law, so to speak, in that the information they gave a) didn’t actually lead to his arrest, and b) came from a canine.

But then again, the guy was on the Ten Most Wanted List, and thanks to the dog, they found him.


If it actually said “leading to the arrest”, then that’s a stopper. If it said “leading to the apprehension”, then they’ve got some wiggle room.

If they’ve got some pictures of the dog and the head, maybe they can get a few bucks selling those.

I don’t know where the official “rules” for the reward are spelled out, but the notice on the US Marshals Service website says “a reward of up to $25,000 is offered for information leading directly to Stoeser’s arrest.” So extremely doubtful.

The fact that it was a dog that found the skull is immaterial. The owner notified police and would be eligible for the award if it had actually led to an arrest.

Are there any jurisdictions where a corpse could be legally arrested?

One possible way to wiggle around it could be to observe that a person is not considered legally dead until they are declared as such by a competent local authority. That’s why, for example, if paramedics discover an accident scene where the victim’s brains have been blasted out of his head and scattered across a ten meter circle, they will stay on the scene, maintaining as much calm as possible, until a physician arrives to “declare” the person dead. Declaring death is outside of a paramedic’s scope of practice. After the doctor has declared death, the paramedics can transport the body to the morgue, where the coroner (a local government official) will sign the official Death Certificate, making them “Legally Dead”.

So if the skull was just recently found and no death certificate has been signed yet, perhaps a cop could pick it up and declare an “arrest”, or maybe the finder could stick it in a box and say that’s a Citizen’s Arrest (if citizen’s arrests are legal in that jurisdiction). They then take the skull over to the local police department, where the cops take the box and send it to the morgue for an official determination of death.

One concern about that, though, is whether declarations of death are legally retrospective to the date and time that the coroner estimates was the actual time of death, or if the person is considered to have legally died on the date that the death certificate formalities are completed. And even if death declarations are considered to be retrospective in operation, there might be a really tight nuance as to whether or not an “arrest” that was made in good faith (“Hey, I’m not a doctor, he could have been alive!”) against a person later found to be dead would be considered void ab initio (meaning that there never was an “arrest” to begin with) or voidable (meaning that the arrest was legal up until death was declared retrospectively, after which the arrest was retroactively voided, quashed, revoked, and/or expunged.

Cite for this assertion. What physician do they call to the scene?

Well, maybe a physician won’t be called to the scene itself, but the bodies would be taken to an emergency room or other facility for a medical evaluation, where there would be a doctor on duty who would make the cursory (but professional) determination that yes, he’s dead, Jim. The EMT’s can’t just dig a hasty grave and say good riddance.

Back in the days of the “Wanted: Dead or Alive” posters one could bring in the identifiable head of the wanted person and reasonably expect the payout.

Nowadays, not so much.

Spoil sport… :stuck_out_tongue:

This reminds me of an image in an early 90’s edition of Spy magazine with a cop holding a severed head by the hair. Caption: [Middle Eastern City] police apprehend bombing suspect

According to local news, the US Marshals have said that it’s up to the head office in Va as to whether or not the family gets any reward money:

Of course it’s a matter for the HEAD office. :slight_smile:

“You have the right to remain sil…uh, never mind”

There’s an “alas, poor Yorick” joke in here somewhere…

Not in my ER they don’t. If someone is D-E-D, Dead on the scene, the paramedics are certainly within their protocols to pronounce the patient deceased and not transport them to the hospital. If it’s a car accident, homicide, suicide, etc the police and county coroner would get involved. At that point the body would be transferred to the care of the medical examiner who may or may not be at at hospital. But if it’s an old person who died in their sleep or whatever from obvious natural causes, the patient might get transported to a hospital morgue or straight to a funeral home if the family already knows what they want to do with the body.

The only time a dead body is transported to the ER for me to “evaluate” them is when they die enroute to the hospital or the Paramedics think that the family will freak out if they don’t bring the body in.

USCDiver, MD

Yes, because even if the person’s skull is completely void of a brain, there’s always the chance he’s still an excellent lawyer.