Detroit police have opened a criminal investigation into Cantrell Funeral Home after the bodies of 10 fetuses and one full-term baby were found in the ceiling of the former funeral home Friday night.
It is not clear how long the remains had been there, but the property's current owner, Naveed Syed, said he was told at least one of the bodies had been there since 2009.
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The Cantrell Funeral home was shut down this past April due to several violations and "deplorable, unsanitary conditions." Investigators found bodies not stored properly, including at least two that reportedly appeared to be covered in mold.
Detroit Police Chief James Craig said they were called by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) after LARA received an anonymous tip about the bodies.
Now, the department has opened a criminal investigation on allegations of failing to supervise a final disposition of a dead human body in excess of 180 days. That makes it a felony, Craig said.
Craig told reporters on Monday afternoon that he has spoken with the Michigan Attorney General and the Wayne County Prosecutor, and expects to speak with Prosecutor Kym Worthy again before filing a criminal complaint.
According to Craig, some of the bodies that were found were clearly marked, while others weren't and that will make it hard to identify them.
"In my 31 ½ years I have never heard of such a case. It’s deeply troubling," Craig said. He added that the DPD peer support team was dispatched to the scene Friday night to talk with officers who were investigating.
Craig said that investigators had not yet spoken with the former owner, Raymond Cantrell, but they will speak with him at the appropriate time of the investigation.
LARA had previously been called to the former funeral home in August, according to Craig, where they found the body of one fetus and also found several cremated human remains.
Syed had been converting the former funeral home into a community center.
LARA reported Cantrell Funeral Home had 60 days to either assign its existing prepaid contracts to another person registered under the Prepaid Act and notify the Department and contract buyers of the assignment within 30 days of the assignment.
The funeral home's other option was to cancel their current contracts and issue refunds to each contract buyer, providing copies of refund checks and correspondence to each contract buyer to the Department within 90 days, unless the Department modifies, vacates, or extends the terms of the Order.
A spokesperson from LARA has released this statement regarding their investigation:
“Based on a new complaint, LARA investigators today searched Cantrell Funeral Home and found the decomposing bodies of 11 infants. We then immediately contacted local authorities. In April, LARA suspended the mortuary licenses of both the home and its manager Jameca LaJoyce Boone for many violations including the improper storage of decomposing bodies of adult and infants. That suspension order remains in effect as does our investigation. We will use the evidence gathered today to add to our open investigation and will continue to work with local law enforcement as this case proceeds.”