UPDATE at 9:00 PM AEST | POLICE say the remains of 11 babies found hidden in the ceiling of a former funeral home in Detroit, Michigan, were discovered after authorities received an anonymous tip-off.
It was first reported construction workers had made the chilling discovery on Friday while converting the Cantrell Funeral Home on Mack Avenue into a community centre following its closure six months ago.
Detroit Police Detective Lt. Brian Bowser has since confirmed, however, that inspectors from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) received an anonymous note leading them to the discovery.
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Speaking to reporters, Detective Lt. Bowser said LARA received the letter about 2.30pm on Friday, “detailing the existence or the whereabouts of numerous human remains inside the funeral home”.
“They were met here by the current owner who admitted them entry. They went to the location described in the letter and located a couple boxes – one box and one small casket,” he said.
“They immediately notified Detroit police who responded and removed the boxes from a false ceiling between the first and second storey of the funeral home.”
Inside a cardboard box and a casket were the remains of 11 infants and still borns, Detective Lt. Bowser said.
Nine of the tiny bodies were found in the box, while two others were in separate trash bags in a single small casket.
“Obviously we’re doing a follow up investigation,” Detective Lt. Bowser said.
Detective Lt. Bowser told reporters the bodies were improperly taken care of and said it was not known how long the remains had been stowed in the ceiling for.
He said authorities were trying to get in contact with the former owner of the building.
The funeral home was shut down in April following multiple violations, including the improper storage of embalmed bodies, some of which were found decomposing and covered in mould.
At the time, then owner Raymond Cantrell told FOX 2 he had stored the embalmed bodies in a garage for customers who could not afford to pay for a funeral.
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
FIRST on SATURDAY: CONSTRUCTION workers have made a chilling discovery at a former funeral home in the US state of Michigan after finding the bodies of 11 babies decomposing in the roof.
The bodies were found hidden in a drop-down ceiling at the former Cantrell Funeral Home about 5.30pm on Friday.
Detroit police said the remains of nine infants were found in a cardboard box, and two were found in a casket.
The building on the city’s east side is being converted into a community centre following its closure in April.
Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs shut down the funeral home for multiple violations, including the improper storage of embalmed bodies, some of which were badly decomposed and covered in mould.
Speaking to FOX 2 at the time of the home’s closure, owner Raymond Cantrell admitted embalming the bodies and storing them in a garage for customers who could not afford to pay for a funeral.
“If I had them in the funeral home then my funeral home wouldn’t smell fresh … so yes they are embalmed and serviced we put them in the garage,” Cantrell said at the time.
“Those who have asked me to hold their loved ones will know I was doing them a favor to accommodate them.”