Three vie for Franklin Co. coroner's post

May 16, 1999|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The field of three candidates for Franklin County Coroner will be narrowed to two after Tuesday's primary.

Chief Deputy Coroner Jeffrey R. Conner and Dr. Michael Cerveris are running for the Republican nomination. Ronald R. Coover is unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Conner, 44, of 1497 Loudon Road, has been the chief deputy coroner under Coroner Kenneth L. Peiffer for more than 11 years. Peiffer is retiring at the end of this year after three terms in office.

Cerveris, 50, of 5118 Burkholder Road, is a dentist with training in dental and mass-disaster identification through the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. In 1987, he ran against Peiffer as a Democrat.


Coover, 56, of 9995 Tower Road, Shippensburg, Pa., owns a sandblasting business.

"It gives me an opportunity to serve the county ... with my training, my certification and my experience," Conner said about his reasons for running. He said he has directed or assisted on most of the 3,800 cases the Coroner's Office has handled since he was appointed.

Conner said he has taken more than 40 courses over the years, including forensic death investigation, homicide investigation, interview and interrogation and crime scene techniques.

Cerveris said his experience includes the 1994 investigation of a USAir crash in Pennsylvania that claimed 132 lives. He was part of a team of specially trained dentists who were called in to help with the identification of victims from bone fragments and teeth.

"Our role in that was not only doing the identification, but recovering the remains," Cerveris said. He said he identified one victim from the only remains found - a single tooth.

Conner said the Coroner's Office has required dental identification 22 times in the past 11 years. That work is assigned to a local dentist.

Cerveris said he wants a chance to put his experience to work "in my own backyard." He said he switched to the Republican party after realizing he would have a better chance of being elected as a member of the county's majority party.

Though his professional field isn't related to medicine, Coover said he would find the job interesting.

"The job would fascinate me in that you have to determine how someone died, and they can't tell you. To me that's a challenge," Coover said.

A medical background is not required for the office, only the successful completion of a certification course offered by the state, Coover noted.

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