Massachusetts State Police Unearth Missing Corpse Buried in Wrong Grave Due to Medical Examiner's Error

State police have found the body of a missing Cape Cod man misplaced by the state medical examiner's office, an official with direct knowledge of the case told The Associate Press on Friday.

The body had been inadvertently switched with the corpse of another deceased person that had been released to a funeral home and buried, said the source who spoke on condition of anonymity because the discovery had not been formally announced.

State police backtracking though the case realized that a body still in the medical examiner's office was that of an individual who had been thought to have been given to a funeral home and buried. They dug up the grave of that individual and in the coffin found the body of the missing Cape Cod man.

The misplacement of the body led Gov. Deval Patrick on Thursday to suspend the state's chief medical examiner.

Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Mark Flomenbaum was placed on a paid leave of absence on Thursday after his office reported it could not find the body of the man, which had been taken to the state pathology lab on April 23 and autopsied the next day.

The state Executive Office of Public Safety ordered state police to take over the investigation.

In March, Public Safety Secretary Kevin Burke ordered the medical examiner's office to clear a backlog of bodies being stored there. A lack of adequate storage space forced workers to stack corpses and place some in a refrigerated truck meant to be used on a temporary basis.

Flomenbaum took over the medical examiner's office in 2005 after it had been accused of sending the wrong set of eyeballs for testing to determine whether an infant had died from shaken baby syndrome; and of misidentifying a fire victim's body. He had vowed to increase staff, clean up the office and perform more autopsies.