Investigators pore over seized documents in Detroit funeral home corpses case

Lawsuit filed months ago playing key role in criminal case, police say

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DETROIT – Local 4 is getting new word into what officials are focusing on in the investigation into the mishandling of human remains at two Detroit funeral homes.

A lawsuit filed months ago is playing a key role in the criminal case, but investigators are running into road blocks, Local 4 has learned.

Case background

It's been 11 days since an anonymous tip led police to find the remains of infants and fetuses hidden in the ceiling of the shuttered Cantrell Funeral Home, in Detroit, but the former manager said investigators haven't contacted her.

Late in the day Friday, police raided the Perry Funeral Home and uncovered 63 corpses.

Officials said there's a wide-ranging investigation into funeral homes by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.

READFormer Cantrell manager says investigators have not contacted her

Cantrell is where the entire investigation started. Last April, the state of Michigan shuttered the business, citing deplorable conditions, incompetence and gross negligence.

State inspectors discovered improperly stored bodies, including two in an advanced state of decomposition.

Ongoing investigations

A lot of traffic came in and out of Perry Funeral Home on Tuesday, but it's closed and likely will remain so for the foreseeable future.

The task force -- made up of officials from the Detroit Police Department, the Michigan State Police and state investigators -- is digging into the documents that were confiscated during raids over the past week.

Detroit police confirmed Tuesday there are two separate investigations.

So far, officials have found nothing that connects Perry with Cantrell as it pertains to vast numbers of unclaimed infant remains stored in their respective buildings.

The blueprint for the investigation is a civil lawsuit filed against Perry, its owners and the hospitals it did business with regarding the fetuses in question.

Detroit police are still looking at violations of the state law as they pertain to the final disposal of dead bodies.

The biggest issue the task force faces is identifying the parents of the dead infants.

There is a mountain of paperwork involved in the investigation, and right now, officers are wrestling with that and what they have to work with.

State regulators will have to step in to assist with telling investigators how the system is supposed to work and help with figuring out how the situation got so out of hand.

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