DETROIT — Police removed the remains of 63 fetuses from a Detroit funeral home Friday as part of a widening investigation into improperly disposed remains at two funeral homes in the city, according to multiple reports.
Authorities found 36 fetuses in boxes and 27 others in freezers while raiding Perry Funeral Home on Friday, The Detroit News reported.
“I’m stunned,” police Chief James Craig told the newspaper. “My team is stunned. God help those families.”
Officials found remains dating as far back as 2015, WDIV reported, citing the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. The agency suspended the funeral home's license Friday and the license of its director, Gary Deak, citing "heinous conditions and negligent conduct," according to WDIV.
The bodies were discovered one week after authorities found the bodies of 11 infants hidden in the ceiling of Detroit’s Cantrell Funeral Home. Officials had closed the facility in April after finding conditions that posed "an imminent threat to public health and safety,” including bodies in an advanced stage of decomposition, "covered in what appeared to be mold," according to authorities.
Craig said at a news conference Friday that a parent came forward after seeing reports on Cantrell Funeral Home to report that remains were improperly disposed of at Perry Funeral Home.
Lawyers for the father and mother involved in the case told the Detroit Free-Press that they believe the bodies of as many as 200 infants may be found in improper possession of the Perry Funeral Home.
According to attorneys Peter Parks and Daniel Cieslak, employees of the home regularly left infant remain with the Wayne State University School of Mortuary Science, "then failed to follow up with parents' wishes for the remains to be used in research by the WSU school of medicine," the Free-Press reported. In the lawsuit, Parks and Cieslak also alleged that Medicaid and the Detroit Medical Center may have been fraudulently billed for burials that the Perry Funeral Home failed to perform.
Among other alleged violations, WDIV reported that employees at Perry failed to certify and file death certificates within 72 hours of death and failed to supervise the final disposition of bodies within 60 days of receiving them.
“This may be much larger than we know,” Craig said. “I hope this is isolated to these two. I can’t say that with certainty.”
Authorities said there were no early indications that the cases were connected.
"(There are) no connection that we know of between the two funeral homes, but there are similarities, including the improper disposal of fetuses," Craig said, according to the News. "I've never seen anything like it in 41-and-a-half years (as a police officer)."
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