Relatives Sought for Remains found at Detroit’s Cantrell Funeral Home

269 containers of cremated remains were found at the Cantrell Funeral Home in April by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs after launching an investigation into the east-side funeral home.

There, investigators found two embalmed bodies left in caskets in the garage since the end of 2017. A third body also was found, held by Cantrell from January to April while families paid for the services, and “more than 20 bodies awaiting final disposition,” were covered in mold, LARA said. Officials found a box of fetal remains on Aug. 29. An anonymous letter led them to the remains of 11 infants on Oct. 12. It’s unclear why the remains were left at the funeral home, some for as long as two decades.

Detroit police are investigating the alleged wrongdoing. In the meantime, police and other authorities are attempting to locate relatives of the deceased in order to dispose of the bodies in accordance with the wishes of families.

Brian Joseph, owner of Verheyden Funeral Homes in nearby Grosse Pointe Park, said they have launched an effort to find next of kin who may want to retrieve the remains or attend funeral services. The earliest of those identified dates back to 1998. Joseph said their goal is to try to identify and find the relatives because “it’s our obligation to help.”

“We may not have all the answers, but we want to be part of the solution,” Joseph said. “There’s a lot of bad things going on, but let’s get these 269 people put to rest.”

I suspect genealogists can help as we are experienced at finding relatives.

You can read more in a story by Sarah Rahal in The Detroit News web site at and that story even includes a database of names and dates of death provided by Verheyden Funeral Homes. If you are a relative or knew any of the people listed, contact Brian Joseph, Verheyden Funeral Homes, at (313) 821-9040 or email If you are a relative of one of the deceased and would like to share your story with The Detroit News, email

In addition, a lot of background information about the negligence of the funeral home may be found by starting at

My thanks to newsletter reader Jennifer Rydell for telling me about this sad story.

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