Over the years there has been continuing confusion in public resources (books, articles, message boards, etc.) as to the documents relating to Elvis’s death. These documents are the autopsy report, the Medical Examiner’s report, the death certificate, and the Permission for Autopsy form. Below is an overview of the facts pertaining to each, and how they are different:
The Autopsy Report: This report (Postmortem #A77-160) was put together by the Baptist Memorial Hospital pathologists who performed the autopsy. The autopsy report is not a public document; it was prepared for the Presley family and is the property of the Presley family. It is not “under seal,” nor is it, as a private medical record, subject to judicial seal. Because the autopsy report is a private medical record, it will not be released at any time.
The Medical Examiner’s Report: This is the 2-page report signed and submitted by the Shelby County Medical Examiner, Dr. Jerry Francisco. This document is officially titled, “Report of Investigation by County Medical Examiner,” and is designated Case #77-1944. This 2-page report is not the autopsy report.
The Death Certificate: This is the death certificate completed and signed by Dr. Francisco and filed with the state of Tennessee. Per Tennessee statute, death certificates become public documents at the end of a 50-year period, which means this document will be released in 2027. The death certificate, while not available to the public, is not “under seal,” but is simply not a public document based on Tennessee law.
The Permission for Autopsy Form: This is the form (BMH #29-51) signed by Vernon Presley to grant permission for the autopsy. The signing of the form was witnessed by Dr. George C. Nichopoulos and Richard H. Grob.