State workers discovered the bodies of 11 infants in the ceiling of Cantrell Funeral Home
State regulators received an anonymous tip about the bodies
Nine of the bodies were in a cardboard box and two were in infant coffins
All 11 bodies were found in a hidden compartment inside the ceiling
The Cantrell Funeral Home was closed in April after state investigators found “deplorable conditions”
State workers in Detroit were shocked to find the bodies of 11 infants in the ceiling of the now-closed Cantrell Funeral Home.
The bodies were discovered after state regulators received an anonymous tip on Friday afternoon that the bodies were hidden in a secret compartment inside the ceiling.
Upon investigating the anonymous tip, nine bodies were found in a cardboard box, and two were in caskets inside a hidden compartment of the ceiling. Since the discovery, Detroit police have ordered a search of the entire building specifically looking for more bodies.
Jason Moon, Communications Director with the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), released the following statement after the discovery.
Based on a new complaint, LARA investigators today searched Cantrell Funeral Home and found the decomposing bodies of 11 infants. We then immediately contacted local authorities.
In April, LARA suspended the mortuary licenses of both the home and its manager Jameca LaJoyce Boone for many violations including the improper storage of decomposing bodies of adult and infants. That suspension order remains in effect as does our investigation. We will use the evidence gathered today to add to our open investigation and will continue to work with local law enforcement as this case proceeds.
The Cantrell Funeral Home was closed in April after state inspectors discovered “deplorable conditions” inside the business. LARA inspectors found a long list of issues with the funeral home.
After first being denied entry to conduct an inspection, an inspector found an unclean and unsanitary embalming room, with peeling and chipping paint, water stained walls, dirty floors, and stained protective gear.
Improper storage of embalmed bodies found on April 10, 2018, in an unrefrigerated garage since November and December 2017; a third body was kept from January 9, 2018 until April 17, 2018, when it was cremated.
Improper storage of embalmed bodies found on April 25, 2018 with two bodies in an advanced stage of decomposition, covered in what appeared to be mold and in the establishment’s possession since January and February 2018, and a third body with the facial area covered in unknown fluids.
Operating with an expired prepaid funeral and cemetery sales registration and failing to assign its existing prepaid contracts to another registrant or to cancel its prepaid contracts and issue refunds of the contracts to the contract buyers.
Continuing to engage in activities requiring a registration under the Prepaid Act, including the sale of at least three prepaid contracts.
Failure to deposit at least $21,574 received for prepaid funeral goods or services related to 13 prepaid funeral contracts (a preliminary assessment in this ongoing investigation).
Failure to deposit monies with an authorized escrow agent within 30 days of receipt, under the Prepaid Act.
The story of Cantrell sounds entirely too familiar with the deplorable conditions LARA inspectors found inside Swanson Funeral Home last year. Investigators were stunned when they discovered bodies were being stored inside an unairconditioned garage.
During the inspection, two bodies were found in the garage in cardboard cremation containers stacked on top of each other. A respondent for Swanson Funeral Home claimed the two bodies had been stored there for at least five months, however, the time of death for the two bodies was February 20, 2014, and November 24, 2014.
It is like the plot of a bad horror movie. A funeral home owner that stores dead bodies in an un-air conditioned garage for months at a time. Maggots, blood and other fluids are regularly seen around the building, and the smell of death is hardly masked by the use of cheap incense.
These were the conditions of the Swanson Funeral Home that was forced to close down on Wednesday due to their “deplorable” conditions, according to officials from the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) under the ownership of O’Neil Swanson II.
A History Of Violations
According to the formal complaint, at least eight serious complaints were filed against Swanson Funeral Home with the Michigan Occupational Health and Safety Administration (MIOSHA) between 2012 and 2016. The complaints claimed that Swanson Funeral Home was violating employee health and safety rules administered by MIOSHA.