When Richmond County Deputy Coroner Kenneth Boose was a kid, he could not stand the sight of blood.
“Every little cut would make me nauseous,” he said. “I would pass out.”
That did not stop the 49-year-old Augusta native from pursuing a career in law enforcement, including a stint in violent crimes. Then in January, Boose became a coroner, something he said his mother still has a hard time believing. But Boose said he is happy about his job choice.
“Honestly, I didn’t know how I’d like it. I love it here,” he said. “This is where I am supposed to be.”
Last weekend, Boose was called to the scene of eight different deaths. Most required him to break the news to a family member, the hardest part of the job in his opinion.
The tact required to talk to people on the worst day of their lives is why Coroner Grover Tuten wanted Boose to join his staff.
“He has the ability to talk to people,” Tuten said. “We can’t do anything for that dead man, so our job is to help the family. Kenny possesses that quality.”
A few families stick out in Boose’s mind in the short time he has been a deputy coroner. He remembers a wife who started screaming when she found out her husband had been killed and a father who showed no emotion after learning about the death of his son. He has had to call ambulances for family members who reacted physically to the news.
“There’s no easy way to do it,” he said.
Tuten’s philosophy at the coroner’s office is to always tell family members in person. Even when a victim’s family is not local, Boose said he will call the local coroner or medical examiner to go to the house so someone is present.
Boose looks at his job with positivity. He said he knows he is helping people by being the first person to look into a cause of death. He is happy to be able to use some of the skills he acquired in law enforcement.
Even when called to a natural death, the coroner will investigate it. He looks for medication and signs of foul play and speaks to witnesses. The coroner makes the call on whether the body is sent for an autopsy on a nonviolent death.
In a violent death, the body is part of the coroner’s investigation. Everything around the body is left to the Sheriff’s Office.
“The body is ours,” Boose said. “The scene is theirs.”
His law enforcement experience is another reason Tuten was eager to have him.
Boose joined the Sheriff’s Office in 1987, and worked his way up through investigations and into violent crimes. At the time, he had two young children. He said he remembers there was a month where multiple children were killed. As he was looking through the camera at the bodies, he saw the face of his own son.
“I thought, well, it’s time to move on,” he said.
In 1995, he moved over to the narcotics division, which he said was a good relief from the violence he saw in his old job and offered some new challenges, including years with the DEA taskforce.
Boose left law enforcement in 1999 to be a mortgage broker. While he did well financially, he was never happy with the job.
“I couldn’t wait to come back,” he said, adding that he comes from a large family in law enforcement, which includes his cousin, Columbia County Sheriff Clay Whittle.
In his new job, he spends his days assisting families in a different way than when he was a cop.
“Now I’m here, helping people by investigating their loved one’s death. Bodies tell a story – I’m here to listen.”