Families scramble to find funeral home after bodies found decomposing

Families in and around Detroit are scrambling and trying to figure out how to bury their loved ones after a Detroit funeral home was shut down this week because of deplorable conditions.

Cantrell Funeral Home at 10400 Mack Avenue was shut down on Wednesday after bodies were found decomposing and growing mold.

Since that story broke this week, funeral homes in the area from lots of families worried and looking for somewhere to turn. Kemp Funeral Home in Southfield is stepping up to help.

Decomposing, moldy bodies found in Detroit funeral home; shut down by state

Funeral Director Stephen Kemp gave FOX 2 a tour of what an embalming room should look like. 

"We want the public to know that every funeral director is not a bad person," Kemp said.

Cantrell Funeral Home in Detroit was cited for deplorable conditions. 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.

The owner says he was just trying to help families who couldn't pay.

Owner of shut down funeral home says he stored bodies to help community

"Those who have asked me to hold their loved ones will know I was doing them a favor to accommodate them. For those that weren't, like the many of the cremated they are trying to take from here or that they are taking from here. Those individuals we called we've tried to notify and they haven't been picked up," said Raymond Cantrell, the owner.

Kemp says he can't help but feel for these families.

"I don't think anybody who is in the area would stand for that," he said.

By law, there isn't a time frame funeral homes are required to hold a body without payment but if they've agreed to bury or cremate a body, it has to be embalmed or kept in refrigeration. 

"If we take custody of remains, we have a fiduciary duty to take care of those remains," Kemp said.

The regulating agency Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) that oversees inspections recently hired two more inspectors following a similar situation at a funeral home in Flint. Kemp has noticed the crackdown.

"I'm happy the state is now following through on inspections and doing the things they should do," he said.

Kemp said he encourages families to do their own homework too and all funeral homes are required to display their licensing - and provide you a list of prices upfront. 

You can see if a funeral home is licensed by visiting the LARA web site here or by calling (517)-335-5237.