Less than one week after the shocking news that the remains of 11 babies were found in the ceiling of Cantrell Funeral Home in Detroit, authorities have reported another shockingly similar case.
On Friday, October 19, the Detroit Police Department, as well as inspectors from Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), discovered 63 bodies of infants and fetuses at Perry Funeral Home.
LARA revealed that the funeral home never provided the families with death certificates "for the dead bodies of the fetuses and infants for whom they assumed custody with the appropriate governmental authority within 72 hours of death."
According to the press release by the DPD, 37 of the bodies were found in three unrefrigerated boxes and 26 in a freezer. Some of the remains date all the way back to 2015.
"I have never seen anything like this in my 41-1/2 years [on the force], ever."
As a result of the "heinous conditions and negligent conduct," failure to properly dispose of the bodies or facilitate a legal disposition, the funeral home's license has been suspended and the establishment has been ordered to halt all operations.
"I have never seen anything like this in my 41-1/2 years [on the force], ever," Detroit Police Chief James Craig admitted to reporters.
The New York Times reported that the officials were led to the funeral home after a woman filed a lawsuit in July, claiming that her daughter's body was supposed to be given to Wayne State University Medical School for "research and educational purposes," but the remains ended up at Perry Funeral Home instead.
The lawsuit also highlighted that the funeral home indicated on the child's death certificate that the remains were buried in a cemetery, even though they were still at a mortuary without the mother's knowledge.
“We’ve got multiple layers of potentially criminal activity by Perry Funeral Home, lack of supervision on the part of the mortuary science program and gross negligence on the part of the hospital,” said Peter J. Parks, a lawyer for the grieving mother.
"...Remains were ‘unclaimed’ by the parents."
Despite the damning evidence, Perry Funeral Home defended their actions in a statement. It read:
"Perry Funeral Home received these remains from local hospitals who had indicated to Perry that the remains were ‘unclaimed’ by the parents.
In other words, the hospitals had informed Perry that the hospitals had reached out to the parents by certified mail and/or by phone, and the families did not respond.
We do not believe that any of these remains involve families that paid Perry for funeral services."
Although the case is extremely similar to that of Cantrell Funeral Home, Craig said in a press conference that "there is no connection" between them. He added that "it's very disturbing" and they hoped that this "was isolated to these two [funeral homes]."
Not an isolated incident
Like Perry Funeral Home, Cantrell's owner, Raymond Cantrell, has also denied any wrongdoing on his or his staff's part after an anonymous tip triggered the investigation that led to the gruesome discovery.
He admitted to storing the bodies in the building, but he said it was all part of the effort to help families who couldn't afford a proper burial for their children.
"If I had them in the funeral home then my funeral home wouldn’t smell fresh," Cantrell told the news outlet. "So yes, they are embalmed and serviced we put them in the garage."
"Those who have asked me to hold their loved ones will know I was doing them a favor to accommodate them. For those that weren’t, like the many of the cremated they are trying to take from here or that they are taking from here. Those individuals we called we’ve tried to notify and they haven’t been picked up."
So far, no charges have been filed against either of the homes.