Local police recovered 11 infant corpses concealed in the ceiling of a funeral home in Detroit late Friday.
An unnamed tipster sent a letter to authorities revealing that the remains of nearly a dozen children were hidden in a drop ceiling inside the former Cantrell Funeral Home on Mack Avenue in the city’s east side, according to the Detroit Free Press.
“The bodies were badly decomposed, some of their faces weren’t even recognizable,” said Naveed Syed, the building’s owner, who was present when the bodies were recovered. “No matter how strong you think you are, seeing 11 dead children takes a toll. It can be traumatizing and it’s so sad.”
Nine of the corpses were stored in a cardboard box. The other two were dumped in a garbage bag inside a casket.
The New York Times reports that the facility has since been acquired by Quality Behavioral Health, a non-profit rehabilitation center of which Syed is CEO. The erstwhile owner of the funeral home is Raymond Cantrell.
WATCH Syed talk about the morbid discovery:
Police have identified at least some of the children. (RELATED: See What Happens When This Ordinary Traffic Stop Goes Horribly Wrong)
“We do have names for some of the remains, and we’re going to try to contact the families,” Detroit Police Lt. Brian Bowser told reporters, noting several of the bodies appear to be stillborn children.
Bowser added that the tip was quite specific as to the location of the corpses, raising the prospect that a former employer or person close to the disgraced owner supplied the information.
“Obviously, it was either an employee or someone who had knowledge,” he said.
Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs closed the funeral home in April after receiving a battery of complaints from the public. On visiting the facility, state inspectors found several embalmed bodies — two of which were badly decomposed — were stored improperly, generally unsanitary conditions, and five other violations of the Prepaid Funeral and Cemetery Sales Act.
“Michigan residents trust funeral home directors, owners, and their establishments to follow the law, especially when dealing with the death of a loved one,” a state official said at the time. “We will continue to aggressively hold every funeral home in Michigan to the highest standards of public health and safety when providing final arrangements.”
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