In a rapidly widening investigation of metro Detroit funeral homes, Detroit Police executed a search warrant Friday at a west-side funeral home and removed the remains of 63 fetuses, police said, USA Today reports.
Custody of the latest remains — found at the Perry Funeral Home — was turned over to state investigators, who immediately declared the business closed and its license suspended, according to a statement from Michigan Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
Of the grisly total, there were 36 fetuses stored in boxes and another 27 found in freezers, police said.
Friday’s raid at the Perry home came after Detroit homicide detectives also raided QA Cantrell Funeral Home in Eastpointe to investigate a potential connection with the fetuses found in the ceiling of Cantrell Funeral Home in Detroit. Detectives seized computers, business cellphones, and paperwork, according to a news release. They also raided the home of the owner, Anetta Cantrell, the widow of the deceased founder of the Detroit home with the same name.
Detroit Police Chief James Craig said he was stunned.
“I’ve never seen anything (like this) in my 41 and a half years” as a police officer, Craig said, at a news conference on Friday, adding: “It’s disturbing, but we will get to the bottom of this.”
Craig said police were tipped off to violations at the Perry Funeral Home by a father involved in a civil suit over the improper burial of his infant daughter.
Lawyers for the father as well as the mother of the deceased baby said the parents are plaintiffs in a lawsuit that they hope will allow them to represents dozens, perhaps scores, of parents whose infant remains were allegedly improperly handled by the Perry Funeral Home. The case could become a class-action lawsuit representing every parent who comes forward with a similar complaint, Troy attorney Peter Parks said.
Friday’s findings point clearly toward criminal offenses of state laws regulating funeral homes that could be felonies “punishable by imprisonment for not more than 10 years or a fine of not more than $50,000 or both,” said a statement from the agency.