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Detroit funeral home, former manager lose mortuary licenses over 'deplorable conditions'

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

The state has revoked a Detroit funeral home’s mortuary licenses for at least 10 years and fined it more than $115,000 after discovering “deplorable conditions” at the facility.

The final order against Cantrell Funeral Home revoked the licenses of the funeral home itself, the facility’s last known director, Raymond Cantrell II, and its last known manager, Jameca Boone. Cantrell’s license is suspended for at least 10 years and Boone’s for at least three, according to a statement from the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

Workers takedown the address numbers outside the Cantrell Funeral Home along Mack Avenue in Detroit in this October 13, 2018, file photo. 
On Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2019, the state revoked the funeral home’s mortuary licenses for at least 10 years and fined it more than $115,000 after discovering “deplorable conditions” at the facility.

The facility will pay a $115,000 administrative fine, and Cantrell and Boone each must pay half of the $11,480 the state spent to store bodies and cremated remains while seeking a final resting place for them.

The Detroit News was unable to reach Cantrell and Boone for comment. 

A separate proceeding against the funeral home related to the alleged mismanagement of its prepaid funeral fund is ongoing, according to the department.

The department suspended Cantrell’s licenses in April 2018 due to “deplorable conditions” uncovered by inspectors and the “failure to deposit funds received for prepaid funeral goods or services with an authorized escrow agent.”

Later, the state found other violations, “including the storage of human bodies in a disrespectful and callous manner in various locations throughout the facility, extremely unsanitary conditions, and the discovery of additional prepaid funeral contract funds not property escrowed,” the agency said in a statement. “By then, the building had changed hands via foreclosure due to unpaid property taxes.”

The department started its investigation into Cantrell in April, when it found several violations, including decomposing bodies covered in mold. In October, Detroit police and LARA inspectors also discovered 11 infant and fetal remains stored in a false ceiling, after receiving a letter that also alleged fraud at the funeral home.

About 300 of the unclaimed adult, infant and fetal remains recovered from Cantrell were memorialized last year during a service at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Detroit, as part of an All Soul's Day commemoration. During a 2018 Veterans' Day service at Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly, 18 veterans whose remains were found at Cantrell were laid to rest.

Several funeral homes and cemeteries assisted in locating or assisting family in finding and interring the remains recovered from Cantrell, the state said. Among those groups were Ellis Memorial Funeral Home in Detroit, Kemp Funeral Home & Cremation Services in Southfield, Santeiu Vaults, Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Great Lakes National Cemetery, Preferred Removal Services and the Charles Verheyden Funeral Home.

“These businesses provided tremendous support and assistance to the families which allowed for LARA to focus on carrying out its regulatory efforts related to this case,” the agency’s statement said.

People with questions about prepaid funeral contracts or remains that were seized at Cantrell and taken to Mt. Olivet Cemetery or Great Lakes National Cemetery should contact the Charles Verheyden Funeral Home.