Perry Funeral Home shut down after 63 fetuses discovered

Families demand answers after Perry Funeral Home closure

By Koco McAboy - Reporter, Dane Sager Kelly

DETROIT - Perry Funeral Home is the second Detroit funeral home accused of mishandling infant remains.

RELATED: Lawsuit filed against Perry Funeral Home, WSU and Harper Hutzel Hospital over infant remains

More than 60 fetuses were found in boxes and freezers at the funeral home on Detroit's west side.

The investigation started when 11 fetuses were found at the shuttered Cantrell Funeral Home on Detroit's east side.

That discovery led authorities to Perry Funeral Home, which has since been closed as investigators try to identify the remains.

Families want answers.

“I want my mom’s remains,” said Vanessa McMath, a client of the Perry Funeral Home.

With the funeral home shuttered, McMath is unsure if she can get her mother's cremains.

There is little closure for dozens of parents who lost pregnancies at the Detroit Medical Center's Harper-Hutzel Hospital.

"I haven't gotten a death certificate," said Micah Compton. "I want to see where my baby was buried at."

In a deposition, Perry Funeral Home manager Gary Deak said he stored the remains in a freezer at Perry Funeral Home. The parents never had any idea this was happening.

Perry Funeral Home, Harper Hutzel Hospital and Wayne State are facing a civil suit over this as a criminal investigation unfolds for how those remains were handled by this funeral home.

The law firm representing the Perry Funeral Home released this statement:

Perry Funeral Home has been serving the Detroit community for decades and has been a reputable, reliable and caring member of the community. The allegations being made through the press are inaccurate. Perry Funeral Home has conducted itself within the confines of the applicable statutes.

These allegations involve only unclaimed infant remains. Perry Funeral Home received these remains from local hospitals who had indicated to Perry that the remains were “unclaimed” by the parents. In other words, the hospitals had informed Perry that the hospitals had reached out to the parents by certified mail and/or by phone, and the families did not respond. We do not believe that any of these remains involve families that paid Perry for funeral services.

In the case of unclaimed remains, a funeral home cannot bury remains without proper authorization, and the law in Michigan sets forth a hierarchy for authority. Perry relied upon and operated within that hierarchy, but Perry never received the legal authority necessary to conduct a final disposition of the remains.

Perry Funeral Home had not been informed that the parents of any of the deceased had desired for the remains to be donated to the medical school. Again, Perry was told that the remains were unclaimed by the parents. It is still unclear why any remains intended to be donated did not go to the medical school. Perry was not involved in any way with the body donor program, which was a program strictly between the hospitals and the medical school.

Perry has conducted itself within the law and has not committed any criminal offenses.

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