Funeral home: Fetuses, Remains Of A Baby Found (Reports).
Detroit police are pursuing a criminal investigation into how the remains of 10 fetuses and an infant body ended up hidden in a drop-down ceiling at a shuttered funeral home, Chief James Craig said Monday.
Craig clarified that 10 of the remains discovered late Friday afternoon appeared to be fetuses, wrapped up and placed inside a makeshift box, while the other body appeared to be have been “a full-term child” and was found inside a “very small coffin.”
Trouble with Cantrell Funeral Home first began in April, when state regulators shut it down for “deplorable” conditions — like embalmed bodies kept in an un-refrigerated garage and bodies found covered in mold and unknown fluids.
Investigators from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs found the remains Friday after receiving an anonymous letter detailing how to find them.
A spokesman for the state agency confirmed state investigators found the remains, but would not comment on what the letter said or who may have sent it.
The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Officer is attempting to identify the remains. Spokeswoman Lisa Croff said the agency is gathering information.
“We have (very) little to go on sans cooperation from the funeral home owners,” Croff said in a statement Saturday.
However, Craig said some of the fetuses were marked with dates that may help investigators. He said at least one carried the date October 2017.
“I’m not certain if that’s the date the mortuary came in contact with the fetus. I’m not certain, we’ll make the determination as we move forward with the investigation,” he said.
Craig said police have not yet spoken to Raymond Cantrell II, who inherited the funeral home from his father and owned the establishment before it was shut down, but they will reach out “as part of our investigation at the appropriate time.”
According to the Michigan Penal Code, failure or refusal to properly supervise the final disposition of a dead human body after more than 180 days of taking it into possession is a felony punishable by a maximum sentence of 10 years and/or a maximum fine of $50,000.
In April, the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs suspended the mortuary licenses of both the home and its manager, Jameca LaJoyce Boone, the agency said in a statement.
“That suspension order remains in effect as does our investigation,” the statement said Monday. “We will use the evidence gathered Friday to add to our open investigation and will continue to work with local law enforcement as this case proceeds.”
Craig told reporters the state agency also had received an anonymous telephone tip in August and recovered a fetus and some cremated remains from the site.
“I have never heard of such a case,” Craig said. “It’s deeply troubling.”
He added that the police department’s peer support team was dispatched to meet with the officers who responded to the former funeral home when the grisly discovery was made.
Local and State Police as well as the Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs are all looking into what happened.