Letter alerting state to hidden fetuses: 'Look above the door'

George Hunter
The Detroit News

State inspectors acted quickly after receiving an anonymous letter in the mail claiming there were fetuses hidden inside Detroit's Cantrell Funeral Home, along with allegations of fraud by a former employee, according to a copy of the document obtained by The Detroit News.

This ceiling space is where the remains of 11 infants were found hidden inside the former Cantrell Funeral Home on Saturday October 13, 2018.

The letter, addressed to Marshall Ogan, an inspector with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, is stamped received on Oct. 12 — the same day LARA investigators and Detroit police raided the facility on Mack Avenue and found the remains of 10 fetuses and an infant hidden in a ceiling tile. 

After the discovery, police opened a criminal investigation into Cantrell.

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"I am writing in an attempt to help you deal with a serious situation," the unsigned letter began, which was obtained by The News through a Freedom of Information Act request. 

The tipster alleged the former employee had left behind "a bunch of infant corpses" and was trying to arrange a break-in to retrieve them. The anonymous writer also said that person had forged hundreds of death certificates and other documents.

State investigators inspected Cantrell in April and suspended its mortuary license after finding deplorable conditions, including more than 20 bodies awaiting final disposition. Two of the bodies were stored in an unheated garage covered in mold. Also found were 269 containers of cremated remains.

A second inspection in August, prompted by an anonymous telephone tip, revealed  "a stillborn corpse in a box atop a table," which hadn't been found in April, along with "one set (of) cremated remains," according to a timeline released by LARA last month.

However, the Oct. 12 tipster wrote there were yet more remains that hadn't been found by inspectors. The letter provided specific details where the remains were hidden:

"When you go through the front door off of (Mack Ave.), there is a red chapel to your left," the one-page letter said. "If you go to your right through the opposite sliding doors, you will end up in a hallway. Go to your right and there's a little storage room area. If you look above the door there's a crawl space and she has several infant corpse(s) placed back there dating back from over 10 years ago."