A former manager at a now-shuttered funeral home in Detroit said she was baffled by the "horrific" discovery of 11 dead babies hidden in a false ceiling

By Adam Carlson
October 15, 2018 02:36 PM
Cantrell Funeral HomeCredit: Google Maps
Credit: Google Maps

A former manager at a now-shuttered funeral home in Detroit said she was baffled and surprised by the “horrific” discovery of 11 dead babies hidden in a false ceiling at her former workplace.

“This is horrific, and it’s unethical,” Jameca LaJoyce Boone told the New York Times. “I don’t understand how it happened or why it happened, and I’m just at a loss for words. That’s not how the funeral industry operates.”

Boone was the manager of Cantrell Funeral Home for about a year until both she and the business had their mortuary licenses suspended in April due to “many violations including improper storage of decomposing bodies of adults and infants,” according to the Times and Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).

Detroit police on Friday announced that an anonymous letter that day had led LARA investigators directly to the bodies of the children — nine of whom were in a box with two others in a nearby casket.

All 11 were “hidden away” in a “false ceiling between the first and second floor of the funeral home,” police Lt. Brian Bowser told reporters.

“They’re very small remains,” Bowser said, adding, “We have to find out what happened and why it happened.” He said the former funeral home was in the process of being converted into a community center. According to the Detroit Free Press, it had been recently sold.

In an interview with the Detroit News, Boone maintained that she was unaware that the bodies had been stashed away.

“I didn’t know anything about that,” she said.. “I really don’t know how that could even have happened. I don’t know how long that’s been going on there … it’s very unfortunate and they definitely need to find out who put them there.”

Neither Boone nor officials with the funeral home could immediately be reached by PEOPLE.

Boone was neither an owner of the funeral home nor related to the family who did own it, the Times reports.

On Friday, Lt. Bowser noted “the callousness of the operators, the owners, the employees of the funeral home” in improperly handling the remains.

Authorities were in the process of identifying the children and notifying their families, Bowser said Friday.

No charges have been brought.

It was unclear how long the bodies had been hidden, who is suspected of hiding them, for what reason they were hidden or how they died.

The new owner of the property, Naveed Syed, told the Free Press that the bodies were “embalmed” or “mummified” and were up to three years old, though it’s unclear if he was referring to their age or how long they had been dead.

Some of the babies were “apparently stillborn,” Syed reportedly said.

In a statement, LARA said their investigation was ongoing.