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Michigan Police To File Criminal Complaint After Fetus Remains Found In Former Funeral Home

The remains of 10 fetuses were wrapped up and placed in a makeshift box in the ceiling of the former Cantrell Funeral Home, police said, adding that the body of an infant was also found in a small coffin.

By Jill Sederstrom

Police on Monday disclosed plans to file a criminal complaint against the owners of a Michigan funeral home after a horrid discovery was made inside the building’s ceiling: The remains of what appear to be 10 fetuses and infant.

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) discovered the remains in the ceiling of the Cantrell Funeral Home on Friday afternoon after receiving an anonymous tip, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Investigators initially believed all 11 bodies were infant remains, but later confirmed that 10 of them appeared to actually be fetuses, Detroit Police Chief James Craig said Monday, according to the Free Press.

The fetuses were discovered inside a makeshift box, while the body of the infant was found inside a small coffin.

"They were definitely hidden," Craig told the Associated Press. "The way they were placed in the ceiling, one would not have readily discovered them."

It remains unclear why the remains were hidden in such a way.

"I can't speculate on that," Craig said, according to Michigan Live.

The grim discovery comes just months after state officials shut down Cantrell Funeral Home over other horrid conditions, such as keeping embalmed bodies in an unrefrigerated garage. More than 20 of those bodies were covered in what appeared to be mold.

Raymond Cantrell, the former owner of the funeral home, had said he put some of the bodies in the garage so the smell wouldn't become overpowering, AP reports.

"If I had them in the funeral home, then my funeral home would not smell fresh," he told the news organization.

Cantrell on Friday maintained he never told any of his employees to hide bodies.

"On behalf of my family I'm really sorry that it happened and totally appalled," he told local news station WDIV. "I'm just thanking God it wasn't something I had any involvement in."

The building’s current owner, Naveed Syed, said he plans to renovate the space and turn it into a community center, AP reports.

“We were looking for a building in this area for the last year or so,” he said, as quoted by AP. “And when we got news that this funeral home was closed, we decided it would be an ideal location.”

Syed also called the discovery of the fetus remains “gruesome,” according to the outlet.

Families who did business with the funeral home have now begun to question its practices.

On Tuesday, a $1 million lawsuit was filed against the funeral home on behalf of a Detroit woman who believes her husband's remains were "improperly handled," according to local news station WXYZ.  

The suit claims the funeral home told Kathleen Bonner in January, shortly after her husband's death, that his body was "unfit for an open casket," and said she was unable to see her husband's body despite requesting to do so after it had been stored at the business.

Bonner’s lawyers at the firm Moss & Colella, P.C. said that reports of the remains found at the former Cantrell Funeral Home building have “[increased their] client’s grief and frustration with the pattern of disregard shown by the funeral home for the families it served,” according to WXYZ.

Syed, meanwhile, said he is determined to take the necessary steps to ensure the remains are handled properly.

"The priority is to find out the next of kin for all those babies. And why they did it. And what actually happened and who did it," he told AP.

The Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office is now working to try to identify the remains, some of which were marked with dates.

[Photo: Associated Press]

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