US probe widens after 63 fetuses found at funeral home

The Perry Funeral Home on Trumbull Avenue in Detroit is pictured on October 21, 2018, where it was reported that 63 remains of fetuses were removed, 36 stored in boxes and another 27 found in freezers, police say (AFP Photo/JEFF KOWALSKY)

Detroit (AFP) - Police in the US city of Detroit have found 63 fetuses at a funeral home during a widening investigation of alleged malpractice at such facilities, US media reported.

"This is larger than we might know," The Detroit News quoted Police Chief James Craig as saying. "It's unbelievable."

He spoke to reporters after officers on Friday raided Perry Funeral Home, where they found the remains of 36 fetuses in boxes and an additional 27 in freezers.

Michigan state regulators suspended the home's license, a week after investigators found the remains of 10 fetuses in a false ceiling at another funeral home in the city.

"We're widening our investigation," Craig said, as cited by the News. "We want to understand the reasons. Was it financial? We don't know."

State inspectors alleged the funeral home failed to file death certificates on time, did not secure permits for removal or burial of bodies, and did not have relatives' permission to deal with the remains.

One parent has sued Perry Funeral Home, and other agencies, alleging that the home stored the remains of stillborn and live birth babies at a university morgue for up to three years without notifying parents, the News said.

It added that the lawsuit further alleges the funeral home billed for services and burials that weren't performed.

After the discovery of the remains on Friday, CNN cited a statement from the funeral home's lawyer, Joshua Arnkoff, as saying: "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."

Arnkoff added that, "We do not believe that any of these remains involve families that paid Perry for funeral services."