photo: WWJ/Mike Campbell

State Seeks To Permanently Close Funeral Home After 63 Fetal Remains Discovered

February 16, 2019 - 3:44 pm
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DETROIT (WWJ) - A Detroit funeral home accused of improperly handling and storing the remains of more than 60 infants and fetuses is in danger of losing its license for good.

The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs is seeking to permanently shut down Perry Funeral Home, in the area of Trumbull and I-94, following the discovery of 63 unidentified fetal and infant remains in freezers and cardboard boxes last October. 

"This is the most significant and severe action that we can take as an administrative agency and that's why we are choosing to seek revocation," said Julia Dale, Bureau Director within LARA. "We certainly, the manner in which the infants and fetuses were stored, saw just gross negligence, a level of disrespect and callousness that, frankly, we've not seen in the past."

Dale said an administrative investigation found numerous acts of gross negligence, incompetence, fraud and deceit in the practice of mortuary science. Among other things, the home is accused of filing 42 death certificates stating that remains were buried or stored at cemeteries when they were in the home's basement.

"We also found that in some instances, it appears Perry had received state emergency relief benefits for the purposes of providing final disposition for at least three of the infants and fetuses but yet never obtained or achieved that final disposition," said Dale.

The agency had already suspended the licenses of the home and its manger, Gary Deak. 

"Both the establishment and the manager, Mr. Deak, have the opportunity to respond to the complaint in a compliance conference with the department," said Dale. "At that time, they'll have the opportunity to demonstrate that they were in compliance with the law or they can voluntarily engage in settlement negotiations."

Violations against Perry include:

  • Of the 63 infant and fetal remains found on their premises that day, possessing 54 of those remains without having express authorization to do so by a relative of the deceased or a person entitled to custody.
  • 39 of the remains arrived at the funeral home more than 180 days and seven of the remains arrived at the facility more than 60 days before the October 19, 2018 inspection, in violation of the Michigan Penal Code.
  • Representing on 42 death certificates that it filed with the Dept. of Health and Human Services that the body was buried at Knollwood Cemetery in Canton, or stored at Gethsemane Cemetery in Detroit, when Perry knew that the bodies were all stored in cardboard boxes or a freezer in the basement of its facility in Detroit.
  • Failing to certify and file death certificates for the dead bodies of the fetuses and infants for whom they assumed custody with the appropriate governmental authority within 72 hours of death. Death certificates were not filed for over a year, and in some cases over three years.
  • Storing the bodies of deceased infant and fetal remains in a disrespectful and callous manner in the basement of its facility.
  • Using a casket that had previously been used in connection with the burial or other disposition of a dead human body.
  • Obtaining State Emergency Relief (SER) benefits for the purpose of supervising the final disposition of at least three deceased infants and fetuses and failing to achieve their final disposition.
  • Making a charge for services in connection with the disposal of deceased infant or fetal remains that it received from a hospital where the hospital did not comply state law by first inquiring as to the desires of the person with authority over the disposal of the remains under the Estates and Protected Individual’s Code.
  • A lack of good moral character.
  • Gross negligence and incompetence in the practice of mortuary science.
  • Practicing fraud, deceit, or dishonesty in the practice of mortuary science.

Members of the public who have questions or concerns regarding the operation of Michigan's funeral homes should contact LARA at 517-241-7000, or by email at [email protected].