The Detroit Police Department discovered 63 improperly stored fetus remains in the Perry Funeral Home, a partner of the Wayne State Mortuary Science Program, on Trumbull and Warren Avenue on Oct. 19, according to a report from the Detroit Free Press. Thirty-six of the fetuses were stored in boxes and 27 were found in freezers, according to DPD.
The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs suspended the mortuary practice licenses of the funeral home and its director, Gary Deak, upon the discovery. In a statement issued by city inspectors, the funeral home was found to be grossly negligent in taking care of remains.
“The funeral home alleges negligent and fraudulent conduct associated with the mishandling of deceased fetal remains,” said attorney on the case Daniel Cieslak. “The misconduct may affect hundreds of Detroit-area families.”
Perry Funeral Home declined to comment.
Attorneys Peter Parks and Daniel Cieslak filed a civil lawsuit against WSU, the Detroit Medical Center, Harper-Hutzel Hospital and Knollwood Memorial Park. The deaths of some of some of the discovered remains date back to 2014, according to the lawsuit.
The Detroit Free Press reports the funeral home used WSU’s morgue to deposit human remains and failed to follow up with family members.
In a statement emailed to The South End, WSU said: “Wayne State is one of the many defendants in this lawsuit, of which we have only recently become aware. We believe the claim against the university is baseless and we will be moving soon to dismiss it.”
The university said they have provided the funeral home with “temporary, secure shelter for remains over the years,” and the university is not responsible for the funeral home’s actions.
“It has never been our responsibility for arrangements or final disposition of the remains,” a statement from the university said. “Wayne State has had no role in either retrieving remains from or delivering remains to that or any other funeral home.”
In another statement sent to The South End on Oct. 24, WSU said it stopped accepting remains from Perry Funeral Home following the “disturbing revelations” on Oct. 19 and will refrain from doing so until the situation has been fully investigated.
The DMC declined comment, citing its policy to refrain from speaking on pending litigations.
The funeral home could face a fine of $50,000 and possible imprisonment up to 10 years. It is currently unclear how much WSU will have to pay, according to LARA.
Last week, remains from 10 fetuses and one infant were found in the ceiling of Cantrell Funeral Home, the Detroit Free Press also reports.
Slone Terranella is news editor of The South End. She can be reached at email@example.com. Cover photo by Miriam Marini.