Oct. 20 (UPI) — The Detroit Police Department said remains of 63 infants or fetuses were found in another funeral home in the city.
Police removed the 63 remains Friday from Perry Funeral Home as an investigation widens after last week’s discovery of 11 infant bodies at now-defunct Cantrell Funeral Home on Detroit’s east side. Authorities say the two discoveries are unrelated.
The Michigan Licensing and Regulatory Affairs said in a statement that the 63 remains were turned over to state investigators who declared the business closed and suspended its license.
Thirty-seven remains were removed from boxes and 26 from a freezer, state authorities told The New York Times Saturday.
Regulators said in statement late Friday they found “heinous conditions and negligent conduct” at the Perry Funeral Home, including failure to certify death certificates and obtain proper burial permits. If criminal offenses of state laws regulating funeral homes are proven, felonies could be “punishable by imprisonment for not more than 10 years or a fine of not more than $ 50,000 or both,” said a statement from the agency.
Investigators raided the Perry Funeral Home to investigate potential ties to the 11 infant bodies found in the ceiling of Cantrell Funeral Home. Four additional bodies were found at Cantrell on Friday.
“At this point, there is no connection,” Detroit Police Department Chief James Craig said in an update on the investigation posted to the department’s Facebook page. “However there are some similarities in the sense that there were alleged improper disposal of fetuses.”
In particular, Craig said police were tipped off about the separate violations at Perry Funeral Home by a father involved in a civil suit about his infant daughter being improperly buried.
“I’ve never seen anything like this in my 41 and and half years … This is deeply disturbing,” Craig said of the discovery of infant remains in both funeral homes. “We will get to the bottom of it.”
Joshua Arnkoff, an attorney representing Perry Funeral Home, said in an email to the Times Friday that he could not comment “other than to say that the allegations in the lawsuit are disputed.”
Attorneys for parents also named Wayne State University, a nearby school of mortuary science, in the civil suit, alleging bodies were deposited at the school’s morgue and the university failing to follow up on promises the remains would be used for research.
“We believe the claim against the university is baseless and we will be moving soon to dismiss it,” Wayne State University said in a statement emailed to the Times.