Detroit police file criminal complaint after 10 fetuses, infant remains found in ceiling

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The Detroit Police Department is filing a criminal complaint against the owners of a funeral home after the remains of 10 fetuses and one infant were found hidden inside the building after it lost its license.

A criminal complaint will be opened against the owners of Cantrell Funeral Home, Police Chief James Craig said Monday.

Initially, it was believed the remains were 11 infants but Craig said on Monday that they were predominantly fetus remains. 

"What we found was 10 fetuses and one full term child," Craig said. "The ten fetuses were in a single layer cardboard box. I believe they were wrapped. The infant full-term infant was put in a very small coffin."

The funeral home closed earlier this year when decomposing embalmed bodies were found there. 

An anonymous letter led state inspectors Friday to the decomposed remains hidden between the eastside building's first and second floors. 

The fetuses were found together in a cardboard-like box while the full-term infant was in a coffin, Craig said.

"They were definitely hidden," Craig told The AP. "The way they were placed in ceiling, one would not have readily discovered them. In 41 1/2 years in policing, this is first time I've heard of anything like this."

Naveed Syed purchased the building a month ago from Wayne County with the intention of turning it into a community center. He says he had no idea what was in that false ceiling compartment. 

“Hiding those babies, those angels, was a terrible thing. I’m a father and it was really really hard for me and it’s going to be hard for the next two or three days to process this. It’s really sad to do something like that to human bodies,” Syed said. 

The remains were taken to the Wayne County medical examiner's office which is coordinating efforts with authorities "to hopefully get them identified and families identified," spokeswoman Lisa Croff said in a text message. "We have very little to go on (without) cooperation from the funeral home owners. Everything is under investigation."

Craig said Monday that some of the fetuses had dates and identifying names on them but others did not. He believed that the oldest remains were from October 2017.

The former funeral home located on Mack, was closed in April for deplorable conditions that included decomposing and moldy bodies. 

On April 10, officials say they discovered the improper storage of embalmed bodies in an unrefrigerated garage that had been there since November and December of 2017. An inspector also found a body kept from January 9 until it was cremated on April 17.

Weeks later on April 25, two bodies in the funeral home's possession since January and February 2018 were found in an advanced stage of decomposition, covered in what they say appeared to be mold. Another body was found with unknown fluids in the facial area.

Raymond Cantrell took over the funeral home in 2017 and admits holding the preserved bodies and says it was his attempt to accommodate the community who couldn't yet pay for burial of their loved one.

The site is being converted to a community center and has new ownership.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.