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

Image 1 of 3

Deplorable conditions have caused a Detroit funeral home to be shut down.

Some bodies were badly decomposed and covered in mold at the Cantrell Funeral home. The owner was upfront to FOX 2, he said he was not aware of all the allegations, but admits he did store bodies to help customers who could not afford to pay.

"He told me to not worry about it," said Yolanda Brewer.

Brewer's sister Leila lost her battle to cancer last December. She didn't have enough money to bury her, so Raymond Cantrell - owner of the Cantrell Funeral Home -  said he would help her out. 

The funeral was held in January - but because Brewer didn't have enough money to bury her sister. Her body would remain here for the last four months.

"I put up everything I have for sale, my furniture, I have got no buyers yet I'm doing what I can to bury her," Brewer said.

But on Wednesday Yolanda learned the state had shut down the Cantrell Funeral Home on Mack Avenue in Detroit for deplorable conditions and decomposing bodies. Issues cited were from failure to deposit money, and fraud to unsanitary conditions and improper storage of embalmed bodies in the garage.

Some had become moldy some were covered in an unknown liquid in the garage.

"If I had them in the funeral home then my funeral home wouldn't smell fresh," said Raymond Cantrell, the owner. "So yes they are embalmed and serviced we put them in the garage."

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.

"Flat out disgusted, I can only tell them the truth," Cantrell said. "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."

Now with the state is involved, which is in the process of removing the bodies from the funeral home, relatives like Yolanda are at an even bigger loss as they try to figure out what to do next.

"I don't know that's the thing, I don't know what to do," she said. "I don't have the money to bury her. I don't even know where they are taking her so what do I do?"

We are being told the bodies are being transported and properly stored by Preferred Removal Services. Anyone with questions is asked to call the state at the Lara Licensing and Regulatory Affairs office. You can call at (517)-335-5237.