CROWN POINT | Lake County's newest coroner unveiled an administrative staff Monday with name recognition and experience.
Merrilee Frey, the county's first female coroner, introduced David J. Pastrick as her chief deputy coroner and Jessica Metros as her administrative officer.
Pastrick, a son of former East Chicago Mayor Robert Pastrick, was twice elected coroner himself and served in the office from 2002 to 2009 when he stepped down because of term limits.
He also is manager of the family-owned Oleska-Pastrick Funeral Home in East Chicago. He is graduate of the Worsham College of Mortuary Science and has been a licensed funeral director since 1987.
Metros was active in Crown Point community affairs as former wife to then-Mayor James D. Metros. She also has served as a member of the Hobart Redevelopment Commission and director of marketing for Channel 56 WYIN. She has a degree in communications and is a vocalist with the "String of Pearls."
Frey stated in a news release she will "aggressively address Lake County's high incidence of child and infant mortality, accidental drug overdose and suicide rates" in addition to working with law enforcement to solve other suspicious deaths.
Frey said she began working in the coroner's office Saturday only hours after being sworn into office to complete the remaining term of former Coroner Thomas Philpot this year and in 2013.
A caucus of Democratic precinct committee members selected her as coroner Saturday morning to replace former Coroner Thomas Philpot, who was stripped of office Aug. 24 after a U.S District Court jury found him guilty of public corruption for stealing $24,000 in federal funds while serving as Lake County clerk between 2004 and 2009.
Frey, who won the Democratic primary last spring over four other party opponents, was the only candidate before Saturday's caucus.
Frey, who is making her first run for elected office, has more than 25 years of experience as a nurse, a membership in forensic nursing organization and a master's degree. She has been director of Lake Circuit Court's domestic relations services for more than a decade.
She has a master's degree in science management and a bachelor's degree in science nursing, both from Indiana Wesleyan University and an associate's degree in science nursing from Indiana University.
She began last week attending Indiana State Coroner's Training Board's 40-hour medical/legal death investigator's course.
Frey is on the Nov. 6 general election ballot as Democratic nominee for a four-year term as coroner that would begin in 2014. Frey is opposed by Republican Dr. Andy Koultourides, a dentist and Munster town councilman.