Blair County Coroner Patricia Ross said a phone call from a nurse at Altoona Regional spurred the investigation into the death of Charlie Denny.
The call came the day following the death of Denny, 64, of Tyrone, who was a patient in the hospital's intensive care unit, Ross said.
Deputy Coroner Jeffrey Guyer started asking questions.
Denny died early July 15, 2011, after a four-day stay at Altoona Regional, and late last week police and the Blair County District Attorney's Office said the case is under investigation as a homicide with an overdose of the anti-depressant Zoloft as the cause.
Ross said Sunday a call was then made to police, although she didn't give a timeframe, and said investigators and her team did "a really good job" attending to every detail. Ross, herself a part-time employee of Altoona Regional, said she had to "take a step back" because of her connection to the hospital and said Guyer was handling the specifics.
Guyer and forensic pathologist Dr. Harry Kamerow are currently working on the death certificate, and Ross said it was withheld not to keep it from Denny's widow, Mary Ann Denny, but so Kamerow could complete his testing and determine the cause and manner of death.
Ross said toxicology screenings, especially the type required in Denny's case, take a long time and the process was prolonged due to a sudden death in Kamerow's family that kept him from the case for some time.
Ross said an autopsy was not performed on Denny because he was already in the hospital prior to his death. There was no trauma involved, and an autopsy wouldn't have shown investigators anything different than what they were able to glean from Denny's hospital tests during the stay.
"An autopsy would show you nothing you wouldn't see in his medical care, such as in his X-rays and blood work," Ross said.
According to Mary Ann Denny, she requested an autopsy not be performed on her husband's body, which was cremated and buried in a private cemetery in Snyder Township.
Ross didn't give a time line for when Denny's death certificate would be released but said she would be meeting with Guyer this week to discuss the case.
Mirror Staff Writer Greg Bock is at 946-7458.