Canton funeral home not shut down by state, faces restrictions

CANTON, Mich. (WXYZ) - A spokesman for the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) clarified information released Thursday that indicated the state agency had shut down Knollwood Memorial Park Cemetery in Canton. 

7 Action News went to Knollwood Friday morning and found that the cemetery on Ridge Road had been inundated with phone calls from people upset over what they thought was a closure and reports that the cemetery was accused of violations and that an "imminent threat to the public health and safety" existed.

"It's very upsetting," said Gregory Mace whose mother is buried at Knollwood. 

A manager for Knollwood said they had not been shut down, but that restriction had been placed on the cemetery that stem from a police investigation into alleged wrongdoing by Perry Funeral Home. 

Perry Funeral Home in Detroit was shut down in October amid allegations that state investigators found "heinous conditions and negligent conduct at the home" that included unrefrigerated boxes of fetus or infant remains and a "deep freezer containing an unknown number of additional deceased bodies."

The mortuary science license of Perry Funeral Home Director Gary Deak was also suspended.

The manager at Knollwood Cemetery in Canton said any problems investigators found in their mausoleum with the remains of unclaimed fetal and infant remains should fall on Perry Funeral Home.

A spokesperson for Perry Funeral Home said that they have not received any specific information from LARA regarding the allegations and could not comment. 

The Perry Funeral Home is owned by Vermeulen Funeral Homes and when 7 Action News went to their Plymouth location and left messages for Jim Vermeulen, we were told he was not available for comment. 

On Wednesday at Knollwood, state investigators removed 27 infant and fetus remains, including some that were reportedly missing proper documentation. 

The remains were from Perry Funeral Home.

According to state officials, "Knollwood, after agreeing to provide for the final disposition of a dead human body, failed or refused to properly dispose of the infants for more than 180 days after the date it took possession of the infants in violation of the Michigan Penal Code.."

Managers of Knollwood said they would be asking LARA for a hearing on the allegations. 

Currently, they are not allowed to advertise or accept money for new pre-paid burial rights. 

They are also prohibited from temporarily storing any remains or moving any of the other remains that are connected to the investigation into Perry Funeral Home

Anyone who has questions or concerns regarding the operation of funeral homes and cemeteries in Michigan should contact LARA at (517) 241-7000. You can also send direct emails to funeralhomes@michigan.gov.

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