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It's rare that deaths by natural causes make the headlines, but one Miami man's death recently garnered some attention. Jacob Morpeau, aged 62, died of natural causes while parked in his car a few blocks from the county courthouse. What makes his death legally weird is that for four days, city parking officials continued to issue citations to Morpeau's vehicle, presumably with him dead inside, sometimes two tickets at a time.
One concerned citizen, who was curious about how a car could rack up so many parking ticket went to take a closer look at Morpeau's vehicle. That's when she discovered that Morpeau was in his SUV slumped over, and dead. County officials have dismissed the $160 in parking citations, but have not issued a statement as to how parking enforcement could have missed the dead body in the car. The good Samaritan however explained that Morpeau was slumped beneath the steering wheel out of sight.
What Do You Do If You Find a Dead Body?
While there generally isn't a duty to rescue others, outside of Vermont at least, if you find a dead body, your first step should be to call 911. Depending on the city, county, or state, the procedure may require providing a statement to law enforcement, or the authorities.
Although many people might be concerned about calling the police or 911 to report a dead body, it is not an unusual occurrence. Typically, just calling to report a dead body will not make you a suspect. Trying to remain anonymous while doing so may make you appear more suspect, and may even impact the credibility of your report. Additionally, if you think that there has been a crime committed, you should not touch anything so as to not disturb a potential crime scene.
Do Fines Disappear Upon Death?
While Mr. Morpeau's traffic tickets were cleared by the county, not all fines and fees are cleared by death. When a person dies, all creditors can seek payment from a person's estate for the debts owed, and that includes the government.
Curiously, it is questionable as to whether Morpeau's parking tickets could have lead to liability as no trial could proceed against him.