11 infant bodies found in funeral home ceiling

Eleven bodies of infants have been discovered in a drop ceiling of a former funeral home in Detroit.

Posted: Oct 17, 2018 10:18 AM
Updated: Oct 17, 2018 10:20 AM

When state investigators acted on an anonymous tip leading them to a former funeral home in Detroit, they found what Police Chief James Craig could only describe as "deeply troubling."

After searching the building, workers from Michigan's Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) discovered the remains of 10 fetuses and one infant in a drop-down ceiling of the former Cantrell Funeral Home.

Now, the Detroit Police Department is investigating how these remains could have been left there -- and who might have been responsible.

Chief James Craig announced the decision Monday.

"Detroit Police Department has opened a criminal investigation on allegations of a felony," Craig said a press conference. The investigation into that felony charge -- failure to supervise the final disposition of a dead body within 180 days -- will involve an interview with Raymond Cantrell II, who owned the former funeral home, Craig said.

Cantrell did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment. Craig said his department has not yet spoken with Cantrell, but that they expect to do so "at the appropriate time."

Charges have not yet been filed, but Craig said he has been in touch with both the Michigan Attorney General's office and the Wayne County Prosecutor about what the next steps might be.

Acting on an anonymous letter

An anonymous letter led investigators from LARA to the site of the former funeral home on Friday, where the remains of 10 fetuses and one infant were found.

The fetuses were found in a "simulated cardboard box" and the remains of the infant were found in a "very small coffin," Craig said, declining to go into specifics about the condition of the remains found.

It's unclear how long the remains were kept inside the building, but at least one of the remains was marked with a date of October 2017, Craig said.

Friday's shocking discovery marked LARA's third visit to the premises in only a few months.

Cantrell Funeral Home was shut down in April by LARA for multiple violations, including improper storage of embalmed bodies, with two in an advanced stage of decomposition, according to a press release.

In August, an anonymous phone call led LARA investigators back to the building, where one fetus and some cremated remains were found, Craig said.

After the remains of 10 fetuses and one infant were found on Friday, a cadaver-trained police dog searched the building and no additional bodies were located, Detroit Police Lt. Brian Bowser said.

Identifying the remains

The Wayne County Medical Examiner is working to identify the remains and notify any families, but the state of the remains, some of which are in "mummified conditions," is making the process difficult.

"Due to the conditions of the remains, the best path toward positive identification is finding existing records. The fact that these remains reached a funeral home means there should be a record somewhere that can help lead us to identifying information," Dr. Carl Schmidt, Wayne County's chief medical examiner, said in a statement.

Investigators hope to match the remains to any medical records or funeral home paperwork that exists. Most of the remains have identifying labels from hospitals, which will also assist in the identification effort, Schmidt said, noting the process could take weeks or months, depending on what records are available.

The Medical Examiner's office will work with state and local officials in their effort, though Craig says this incident is unlike anything he's ever encountered in his nearly 42-year career.

"I've never heard of anything like this. This is the first time in my career," Craig said. "I can't explain it. It makes no sense."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 74992

Reported Deaths: 3044
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion15963725
Lake7632275
Elkhart488385
Allen3937163
St. Joseph354682
Hamilton2803104
Vanderburgh199713
Hendricks1901108
Cass17969
Johnson1767118
Porter133839
Clark124447
Tippecanoe122111
Madison98765
LaPorte92130
Howard90565
Kosciusko86212
Bartholomew80147
Floyd79146
Marshall79022
Monroe75930
Delaware73852
Dubois70012
Noble68429
Boone68346
Hancock67038
Vigo66810
Jackson5885
Warrick58630
LaGrange55910
Shelby55827
Grant52830
Dearborn50828
Morgan48334
Clinton4403
Henry38520
Wayne37710
White37210
Montgomery35421
Lawrence35027
Harrison34123
Decatur33832
Putnam2908
Miami2742
Daviess27320
Scott26810
Greene25134
Jasper2452
Franklin24314
DeKalb2354
Gibson2284
Jennings22612
Steuben2113
Ripley2087
Carroll1932
Fayette1907
Perry18612
Starke1787
Posey1770
Orange17324
Wells1712
Wabash1703
Fulton1692
Jefferson1652
Knox1590
Whitley1546
Tipton14311
Washington1421
Spencer1363
Sullivan1341
Clay1245
Huntington1243
Randolph1234
Newton11810
Adams1022
Jay920
Owen911
Pulaski831
Rush804
Brown741
Fountain742
Blackford652
Ohio655
Benton620
Pike560
Vermillion550
Parke521
Switzerland520
Crawford450
Martin450
Union410
Warren231
Unassigned0206

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 101731

Reported Deaths: 3673
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin18483525
Cuyahoga13640500
Hamilton9689255
Lucas5377323
Montgomery439894
Summit3573223
Butler294463
Marion292945
Mahoning2566254
Pickaway238742
Stark1844139
Warren180339
Lorain180278
Columbiana166560
Trumbull1534107
Fairfield140032
Delaware131619
Licking129949
Clark115814
Lake112438
Wood105858
Clermont94111
Medina93035
Miami85338
Tuscarawas78814
Portage76561
Allen76044
Greene70312
Mercer62513
Belmont62126
Richland60812
Erie59227
Ashtabula57446
Geauga55844
Wayne54458
Ross4904
Darke40229
Huron4015
Ottawa39026
Madison38810
Sandusky38417
Hancock3793
Athens3591
Holmes3286
Lawrence2880
Auglaize2566
Union2541
Muskingum2391
Jefferson2342
Scioto2341
Seneca2223
Putnam20817
Knox2067
Washington20522
Preble2042
Shelby2004
Coshocton1946
Champaign1782
Crawford1745
Morrow1722
Hardin16912
Clinton1656
Highland1591
Logan1552
Ashland1493
Defiance1484
Wyandot1488
Fulton1471
Brown1382
Perry1363
Williams1353
Guernsey1187
Hocking1189
Henry1172
Fayette1150
Carroll1105
Monroe9318
Pike770
Jackson750
Van Wert721
Paulding700
Gallia651
Adams612
Meigs500
Vinton312
Morgan280
Harrison261
Noble160
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 75°
Angola
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 72°
Huntington
Broken Clouds
72° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 72°
Decatur
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 70°
Van Wert
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 70°
Partly Sunny Wednesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events