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Remains of 63 fetuses and infants found at second Detroit funeral home

The remains of 63 infants or fetuses were found at a funeral home in Detroit on Friday, the Detroit Police Department said.

The discovery came amid an expanding investigation, one week after officials found the decomposed remains of 11 infants or fetuses at another – apparently unrelated – funeral home in Detroit.

The discoveries have raised concerns about the handling and disposal of human remains by the city’s funeral homes, especially in cases of stillbirth.

On Friday, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs found “heinous conditions and negligent conduct” at the Perry Funeral Home.

State officials said Saturday that they had removed 37 remains from boxes and 26 from a freezer. Some of the human remains there were found to be years old.

In an emailed statement, the department said the Perry Funeral Home may have committed criminal violations by failing to properly dispose of bodies or to facilitate their final dispositions, such as burial or cremation, in accordance with state laws. The business was shuttered Friday and its license was suspended.

The discovery was prompted in part by a lawsuit filed in July by a woman whose daughter, Alayah Laniece Davis, died shortly after she was born in a hospital in December 2014. At the time, the mother said the body should be given to Wayne State University Medical School for research or educational purposes, the lawsuit said.

Instead, the remains ended up in the custody of Perry Funeral Home and may have been stored at the Wayne State University School of Mortuary Science for years without the mother’s knowledge, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit said the funeral home indicated, on a certificate of death, that the infant’s remains had been buried in a cemetery, even though they remained at the mortuary. All of this happened over a period of years without the mother’s knowledge, the lawsuit added.

Joshua I. Arnkoff, a lawyer representing the Perry Funeral Home, said in an email Friday that he could not comment “other than to say that the allegations in the lawsuit are disputed.”

On Oct. 12, news broke that infants’ remains had been found hidden in the ceiling of another funeral home – the Cantrell Funeral Home, which had been shuttered in April. Chief James Craig of the Detroit Police Department said the two funeral homes did not appear to be connected.

 

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