Autumn Martineau’s Death Leads to Autopsy Controversy

Fond du Lac Family Fights Legal Battle for Religious Beliefs

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“It’s a shame. We shouldn’t have to be here fighting for her, our loved ones’ rights and beliefs,” said Lynn Olson, Aunt of 24-year-old Autumn Martineau.

In the wake of Autumn’s death, her family hoped to mourn by following the traditions of the Fond du Lac tribe.

“We come into this world as one, and that’s how we see ourselves leaving,” explained Olson.

Instead, on the evening of Autumn’s passing, the Martineau family was busy with a legal fight to prevent medical examiners from performing an autopsy.

“At one point, her and her chief medical examiner had said our religious beliefs were fake, that they weren’t real, that we made them up,” Olson told FOX 21.

Autopsies go against the tribe’s rituals, which include spending the four days after death close to the body, and burying the body in one piece.

“We have a spirit fire here,” demonstrated Olson. “Autumn’s spirit will come and visit and make sure that her loved ones are here.”

The family can’t help but feel like their religious views are being ignored.

“The Jewish religion, they don’t do autopsies and it’s never questioned,” said Olson. “Amish, same with them. So why are we being questioned? Why are we being denied that?”

An autopsy is not an out of the ordinary procedure.

It’s a big part of a medical examiner’s job to figure out a cause of death when it might be unclear.

Carlton County Attorney, Thom Pertler, told FOX 21 Wednesday afternoon that it is always necessary to have a cause of death for law enforcement, for prosecution, and for a potential civil lawsuit.

After the court order called off Autumn’s autopsy, the family is now at peace, knowing Autumn’s body will finally be coming home.

“It’s a big relief today that we know she’s coming home and we can send her on her journey in a good way,” said Joy Martineau, Autumn’s mother.

“To me I just think it’s not fair anymore,” exclaimed Olson. “I mean, leave our religion alone, it’s our right.”

Autumn’s body was returned to the family late Wednesday afternoon. The funeral will take place Friday.

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