Detroit Funeral Home Shuttered After Decomposing Corpses Found During Inspection

Krista Clark

A Detroit funeral home has been shut down after a series of what officials are calling "deplorable conditions" were discovered during inspection. Among the conditions cited were two bodies in advanced stages of decomposition and embalmed bodies that were improperly stored in an unrefrigerated garage, according to the Detroit News. The decomposed bodies had been in the funeral home's possession since January and February of this year and were covered in mold. The embalmed bodies had been in the garage since November and December of 2017. Michigan's Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) shut down Cantrell Funeral Home, suspending its license and giving owners 60 days to either assign its funeral contracts to another licensed funeral home or cancel those contracts and provide refunds to its customers.

The funeral home located at 10400 Mack Avenue on the east side of Detroit initially refused to allow inspectors on their premises according to a report from Fox 2 Detroit. Once they gained entry, officials found multiple "unsanitary conditions," including dirty floors, peeling and chipping paint, stained protective gear, and water-stained walls in the embalming area. A state official also discovered a body that had been stored at the funeral home since January 9 but had not been cremated until April 17. Another body was reported as having an unidentified fluid on its face.

The Detroit funeral home had a host of other violations not related to conditions at its site. Those violations include operating with an expired prepaid funeral and cemetery sales registration, gross negligence, dishonesty in the practice of mortuary science, deceit, fraud, and incompetence. Cantrell Funeral Home had over $21,000 in prepaid funeral income that it had not deposited or refunded to its customers. That violation alone is a felony punishable by either a $5,000 fine or five years in jail. All bodies awaiting either burial or cremation and all cremated remains awaiting delivery to customers that were found on the premises were surrendered to the state department. LARA states that they will be managed by its agent, Preferred Removal Services, Inc., who they know has adequate and appropriate refrigeration and storage equipment and conditions.

Julia Dale, director of LARA's Corporations, Securities & Commercial Licensing Bureau, said in a statement,

"Michigan residents trust funeral home directors, owners and their establishments to follow the law, especially when dealing with the death of a loved one. We will continue to aggressively hold every funeral home in Michigan to the highest standards of public health and safety when providing final arrangements."