Michigan cemetery shuttered after discovery of uncremated fetuses

(Reuters) - A cemetery in Canton, Michigan, was shut down by a state agency on Thursday after officials found dozens of uncremated fetus remains lacking appropriate documentation, authorities said.

This week's discovery was part of a criminal investigation into Perry Funeral Home in Detroit, where police said in October that the remains of more than 60 infants and fetuses were found. The badly decomposed bodies of 11 babies were previously found hidden in a false ceiling at a different funeral home in the city.

Of the hundreds of fetuses found at the Knollwood Memorial Park cemetery in Canton and Gethsemane Cemetery in Detroit, 44 did not have proper documentation, Detroit police Chief James Craig told reporters on Thursday. Documents such as death certificates and "Final Disposition of Stillbirth" are required by law.

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) found gross negligence in the improper storage of remains at the Canton cemetery, which was fined $135,000, the agency said in a statement online.

Authorities searched the cemeteries after receiving a tip that there were between 100 and 125 improperly handled fetuses at Gethsemane Cemetery, Craig said.

"Knollwood's conduct demonstrated a lack of integrity to protect the public and a lack of good moral character. LARA regulators found numerous violations," LARA said.

The violations included 27 plastic containers holding an undetermined number of uncremated remains without the required official records.

By storing uncremated remains on Perry Funeral Home's behalf, the cemetery also aided and abetted the funeral home, which was not licensed in funeral directing, LARA said.


(Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago; editing by Grant McCool)