Detroit police remove remains from west-side funeral home
Detroit police homicide detectives on Wednesday removed several boxes of cremated remains from a long-abandoned funeral home on the city's west side, police said.
"We executed a search warrant ... and removed cremated remains," Detroit police Sgt. Nicole Kirkwood said.
The removal of the remains from the former Howell and Ramsey Funeral Home at 15050 Dexter is the latest action in a multipronged investigation into the alleged mishandling of remains at Metro Detroit funeral homes.
Investigators got a tip from an "urban explorer" who broke into the shuttered, brick house and found the remains, many of which were more than 15 years old, a police source told The Detroit News.
One set of remains was more than 25 years old, the source told The News, adding that evidence technicians would be called in to process the scene.
Jason Moon, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Regulatory Affairs, said Wednesday he was aware of the find.
"We are reviewing this matter and will open a consumer complaint to begin an investigation," Moon said.
It was unclear when Ramsey Funeral Home closed, although the source said the facility had been shuttered for at least 10 years.
Wednesday's action comes a week after the investigation took a twist with the discovery of 26 fetuses and infant remains in a Detroit Medical Center morgue, all of which had allegedly been mishandled by Perry Funeral Home.
State authorities are also looking into another case of dozens of infant remains allegedly unnoticed for years in a DMC hospital. LARA since October has been investigating a tip from a former Harper-Hutzel Hospital employee that hospital officials in April 2015 found the bodies of more than 50 infants in a basement morgue.
The former hospital employee told The News and LARA officials that at least 20 of the babies had identification tags indicating they had been in the hospital morgue for more than 10 years.
Moon said the state agency is investigating the former employee's claims.
The funeral home investigation began in October, when Detroit police and LARA inspectors discovered 11 infant and fetal remains stored in a false ceiling at Detroit's Cantrell Funeral Home, after receiving a letter that also alleged fraud at the funeral home.
Detroit police chief James Craig said he launched the investigation because failing to properly dispose of remains more than 180 days after death is a felony in Michigan, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
When a man who was suing Perry and others for allegedly mishandling his daughter's remains saw news coverage of the Cantrell discovery, his attorneys alerted Detroit police. Police met with the attorneys and then expanded their investigation to include Perry Funeral Home.
The lawsuit being handled by the attorneys, Peter Parks and Daniel Cieslak, was granted class-action status in November after the lawyers argued there could be more than 200 mishandled remains.