Michigan state inspectors in reportedly found the remains of 11 deceased infants on Friday, inside a shuttered ceiling at a Detroit funeral home.
NBC News reports that investigators were alerted to the situation after someone sent an anonymous letter to state regulators, detailing the exact location of the infants’ remains, above the first-floor ceiling at the Cantrell Funeral Home off of Mack Ave. According to Detroit police Lt. Brian Bowser, a medical examiner is working to identify the “very small” remains, some of which were badly decomposed.
DPD Lt. Detective Brian Bowser says they recovered bodies of 11 stillborns improperly stowed in a “hidden false ceiling between the first and second floor of the funeral home” after an anonymous letter was sent to LARA Friday. @detroitnews pic.twitter.com/unqxCanety
— Sarah Rahal (@SarahRahal_) October 13, 2018
The issue started six months ago when state regulators found two bodies overgrown with mold at the funeral home. The former owner, Raymond Cantrell, reportedly explained that he had been storing the bodies as a “favor” to families who didn’t yet have the money to provide their deceased loved ones with a proper burial.
Regulators thought at the time, according to the Washington Post, that the problem had been solved after they shut the funeral home down, stripped away its license and properly removed the bodies.
Afterward, there had been talking of converting the funeral home into a community center after a new owner took over, but as construction crews began cleaning the building up, regulators received the anonymous letter, which halted the work. The building was once again closed off for 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,” spokesman for the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Jason Moon, said.
State regulators reportedly found two deceased infants wrapped trash bags inside one casket, while nine other babies were found inside cardboard boxes.
Police contacted Cantrell to inquire about the babies and to question if they were part of his “favor” to additional families. NBC also reached out to the former owner, who denied hiding bodies in the ceiling. He took over the business in 2017 and allegedly blamed the issue on prior management.
“All my human remains were found, discovered, and transferred by the state of Michigan in April,” Cantrell explained.
Bowser said he felt the incident marked the “callousness” of the previous owner and workers.
“It’s just the callousness of the owner, the operators, the employees of the funeral home,” Bowser said.
The building’s most recent manager, Jameca LaJoyce Boone, said she had no idea that deceased babies were in the ceiling.
“I really don’t know how that could even have happened,” Boone told the Detroit News on Friday. “It’s very unfortunate and they definitely need to find out who put them there.”
The story continues to develop. Check back with CrimeOnline as additional details become available.
[Feature Photo: Pixabay]