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Experts weigh in on disturbing Detroit funeral home situations

Fetuses, bodies of newborns found inside Detroit funeral homes

DETROIT – Investigations are underway after fetuses and bodies of newborns were found inside at least two Detroit funeral homes.

Local 4's Hank Winchester looked into what's supposed to happen in these situations. A longtime funeral director and Local 4's Dr. Frank McGeorge offered insight on the disturbing situation.

The situation began in April at Cantrell Funeral Home on Mack Avenue, where 20 decomposing bodies and stacks of cremated remains were found in a garage.

Earlier this month, the bodies of 11 infants were found hidden behind insulation in an attic.

After state officials shut down Cantrell Funeral Home, the cremated remains of four other people were found in the basement.

On Friday, 63 fetus remains were removed from Perry Funeral Home on Trumble Avenue, most of them stored in boxes, with some in a freezer.

John Modetz, of Modetz Funeral Homes, is stunned by the discoveries.

"If you run a reputable funeral service, this couldn't happen," Modetz said. "Impossible. Could we have somebody that would walk away, then I would call Lansing, I would call the medical examiner, I would even call the police. But that really hasn't happened. We have people to call (if that did happen)."

One of the theories is that the parents of the infants couldn't afford burial or cremation, but then why were the remains hidden behind insulation in the attic of Cantrell Funeral Home?

Many funeral homes, such as Modetz, offer free services for infant deaths.

"I don't think there's many funeral homes in Metro Detroit that have a fee," Modetz said. "When a child dies, a fetus, there's no need for a cremation permit. But if a live birth -- if a child takes a breath and it's a live birth -- we have to get a permit from the county."

Permits and paperwork are key, and are required any time a hospital works with a funeral home. It's standard operating procedure, according to McGeorge.

"Bodies are identified, there's paperwork that has to be done relative to whether they're going to a funeral home, what funeral home they're going to or maybe even the medical examiner," McGeorge said. "But we would never leave a body without a clear tag, name and identification on it. That's just unheard of."

A lawsuit against Perry alleges the funeral home might have fraudulently billed Medicaid, as well as the Detroit Medical Center, for burials it never performed. Records would have been manipulated or destroyed as part of a possible cover up simply for financial gain, according to the lawsuit.

Attorneys representing Perry deny those allegations.

Anyone who has a loved one at one of the funeral homes or is concerned about remains at another funeral home is asked to reach out to Help Me Hank at 313-298-WDIV or HelpMeHank@clickondetroit.com.


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