PHOENIX - Court documents are revealing the shocking circumstances surrounding the arrest of an Arizona man for alleged sexual misconduct at a hospital morgue.
According to the documents, the suspect was arrested on the morning of Nov. 28 in Phoenix, but an investigation into the alleged offenses began in October.
Here are the details on what happened.
(NOTE: This article contains subject matter that could be disturbing to some. Discretion is advised)
Who's the suspect?
Randall Scott Bird
The suspect has been identified in court documents as 46-year-old Randall Scott Bird.
As mentioned above, an investigation into the matter began on Oct. 24, 2023, when Phoenix Police officers were called to Banner University Medical Center for what was reported as possible crimes against the dead.
Bird, investigators stated, worked as a security guard for the hospital, and as part of their job responsibilities, they will participate in the intake process at the hospital's morgue.
"The intake process consists on taking custody of the deceased bodies transported to the morgue, verifying the identity of the deceased, and then placing the body inside a large freezer, where they remain until claimed by family. The process usually takes between 10 to 15 minutes. It was also learned that security officers do not open the deceased body bags, and only manipulate the deceased bodies to place them in the freezer shelves," a portion of the court documents read.
Investigators stated that the victim, identified only as a 79-year-old woman who passed away from natural causes, was taken to the morgue at around 4:36 a.m. on Oct. 22, and Bird was left alone with the victim after the person transporting the body left the morgue.
According to court documents, two other security guards headed to the morgue for intake duties about an hour after Bird went to the morgue. When the two arrived, they found the main entrance locked from the inside, which they described as unusual. When the two unlocked the door, they found a freezer door was cracked open.
"Witnesses observed [Bird] inside the freezer. He was sweating profusely and was acting very nervous. They stated that [Bird] had removed his duty belt, which they observed on top of a gurney where a bagged deceased body was placed. [Bird's] zipper on his uniform pants was wide open, and the rest of his uniform looked all messy," read a portion of the court documents.
Investigators also said the victim's body bag was completely unzipped, and the victim was facing down.
"Witnesses explained that bodies are never placed facing down, and they never unzip the body bags," investigators state, in the court documents.
The two witnesses, according to investigators, noticed that a portion of the victim's body was exposed as a result of her hospital gown being rolled up,
"[Bird] started making statements about having a medical episode and fainting, and said he grabbed the victim's body as he fell. He stated the body bag tore open, and the zipper broke. Witnesses stated neither the bag nor the zipper were broken," read a portion of the court documents. "Witnesses explained they were [concerned about] the irregularities, and they reported the incident to their supervisor. An internal investigation was initiated, and police were contacted."
What happened after police were called?
Investigators stated that the victim was taken to the Maricopa County Medical Examiner's Office after the scene was processed by crime scene personnel. Evidence was collected there, and then sent to a lab for analysis.
What did the suspect tell police?
Bird, investigators stated, was interviewed on Oct. 25. After he was read his Miranda rights, Bird said he had a medical episode in the morgue's freezer, and could not remember what happened.
A search warrant was later executed on Bird, which involved DNA samples being collected from Bird. Eventually, Bird was connected to the alleged crime via DNA analysis.
What is the suspect being accused of?
Bird, according to court documents, is accused of five counts of Crimes Against Dead Person (A.R.S. 32-1364), which is a Class 4 Felony in Arizona.
A judge in Maricopa County has set a $10,000 Secured Appearance Bond for Bird, and should he make bond, he will be subjected to a number of restrictions, including a ban from returning to the scene of the alleged crime.
A preliminary hearing is set for the morning of Dec. 7.
What are hospital officials saying about what happened?
We reached out to Banner Health officials on the matter on Nov. 29, and they replied with a statement that reads:
"We are saddened and appalled by the alleged actions of an individual at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix that resulted in his arrest on November 28, 2023.
Recently, Banner team members identified and reported concerning behavior of an employee in the hospital morgue. Banner initiated an internal investigation, filed a report with law enforcement and terminated the employee.
Banner Health has and remains committed to high standards that require each of our team members to treat everyone, at every stage of life, with compassion, dignity, and respect. We are grateful for the work of the Phoenix Police Department in the investigation and handling of this matter, and we will continue to cooperate with law enforcement.
Out of respect for the family, we will not further comment at this time."