Decades-old fetal remains have been found at another Michigan funeral home, marking the third such gruesome discovery in the state in less than two weeks.
An asbestos-removal crew on Monday discovered the remains of two fetuses at the former Mowen Funeral Home in Owosso, about 90 miles northwest of Detroit.
On Friday, police removed the remains of 63 fetuses from Perry Funeral Home in Detroit. The remains of 10 fetuses and a still-born infant were found on October 12 at the Cantrell Funeral Home in Detroit.
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Grisly find: In this Monday, Oct. 22, 2018 photo, the exterior of the former Scarlett’s Funeral Home and later Mowen Funeral Home sits in Owosso, Mich. An asbestos-removal crew discovered the skeletal remains of two fetuses. Police say the Owosso remains were in a casket inside a wooden box in a closet. Markings on the box indicate it is more than 50 years old. The funeral home has been closed for more than two years. (James McKinnie/Argus-Press Photo via AP)
Police say the Owosso remains were found in a casket inside a wooden box in a second-floor closet at 409 West Main Street. Markings on the box indicate it is more than 50 years old.
The Mowen Funeral Home closed down two years ago. Its former owner, Rick Mowen, told ABC12 the remains were found where he and his wife had lived nearly 40 years ago.
‘I don’t know where they came from, but I know that in 1980 they were no there,’ he said.
The exact age of the two sets of remains was not known. A medical examiner’s review determined both fetuses were born prematurely at around 20 weeks’ gestation, before the age of viability.
On Friday, police officers acting on a tip raided Perry Funeral Home in Detroit and found 36 fetuses in unrefrigerated cardboard boxes and 27 more in freezers. Some of the bodies had dates of death in 2015.
Officers found the remains of 63 infants at Perry Funeral Home in Detroit on October 19. Officers seen at the scene
Custody of the remains was turned over to state investigators. They immediately declared the business closed and its license suspended, according to a statement from Michigan Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
LARA said Perry failed to certify death certificates, failed to secure permits for the removal of dead bodies and embalmed dead infants and fetuses without being told to by a relative of the deceased.
One parent has sued Perry Funeral Home, and other agencies, alleging that the home stored the remains of stillborn and live birth babies at a university morgue for up to three years without notifying parents, the News said.
It added that the lawsuit further alleges the funeral home billed for services and burials that weren’t performed.
After the discovery of the remains on Friday, CNN cited a statement from the funeral home’s lawyer, Joshua Arnkoff, as saying: ‘These allegations involve only unclaimed infant remains. Perry Funeral Home received these remains from local hospitals who had indicated to Perry that the remains were ‘unclaimed’ by the parents.’
Arnkoff added: ‘we do not believe that any of these remains involve families that paid Perry for funeral services.’
Several cremated remains were found by cleaning crews at Cantrell Funeral Home (pictured) in Detroit two weeks ago
The badly decomposed bodies of 11 infants were found inside of the false ceiling on each side of the attic ladder at the former Cantrell Funeral Home on Mack Avenue in Detroit
The casket contained a baby and was one of the 11 badly decomposed infant remains that were found by Michigan inspectors, which was hidden in a ceiling compartment of the funeral home
That lawsuit, filed in July, alleges that the Perry Funeral Home stored the remains of stillborn and live birth babies in the Wayne State University School of Mortuary Science morgue for up to three years without trying to notify parents, some of whom wanted to donate the bodies for medical research.
It also alleges the funeral home may have fraudulently billed Medicaid, as well as the Detroit Medical Center, for burials it never performed.
The attorneys in that suit, Peter J. Parks and Daniel W. Cieslak, said they believe many more infants’ remains may be found in the improper possession of the Perry Funeral Home, perhaps as many as 200, based on research of log books kept by the Wayne State University School of Mortuary Science.
In mid-October, mummified remains of 10 fetuses and one infant were discovered at the former Cantrell Funeral Home in a ceiling.
That find came after state inspectors in April shuttered that business after finding 21 improperly stored bodies, some of them covered in mold, in the facility.
Since April, 38 unattended bodies and 269 containers of cremated remains have been discovered in the facility.
Police Chief James Craig said law enforcement agencies are considering forming a task force to investigate the issue, specifically targeting improper storage of remains and fraud.