Funeral Home Closes After Bodies Found in Garage

Bodies were supposed to be cremated

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    A Prince George's County funeral home has lost its license and will be closed after the discovery of what appears to be 40 bodies in bags in its garage. 

    The cadavers were found after an unannounced two-day inspection at Chambers Funeral Home & Crematorium in Riverdale, Md., late last month. 

    Inspectors with the Maryland State Board of Morticians and Funeral Directors and the Prince George's County Health Department took part.

    The Baltimore Sun reported an inspector reviewing a refrigerated area in a garage noticed a "large pile, approximately 12 by 12 feet, of body bags containing human remains strewn on the floor." The inspector's notes also indicated that identification tags were no longer attached to the body bags and "were loose in the pile." The identification tags were found to be torn or wet, "causing the tags to become detached from the body bags and/or illegible."

    The findings led the State Board to summarily suspend the license of the funeral home on Monday. The emergency suspension affects two morticians at well. 

    The funeral home has until Friday to complete any outstanding funeral arrangements and to complete the cremation of bodies at its business.   After that, it will be closed.
     
    William Chambers, one of the funeral home's owners, told the Baltimore Sun that he will fight the suspension.

    A hearing is scheduled for the end of the month. 

    "We felt we handled things appropriately, but the board felt differently," he told the Baltimore Sun. "We have limited space, and things were in disarray. It was unacceptable."

    Chambers also said many of the bodies awaiting cremation were cadavers from Georgetown University's School of Medicine. He said the school had a contract with his firm to remove and cremate the cadavers.  Owner Thomas Chambers said his business picked up 44 cadavers from the university, and they had been there for two days.

    The School of Medicine said it has a cremation contract with Chambers which calls for anatomical donor remains to be treated in a "respectful and organized manner."  In a statement released Wednesday, the School of Medicine said "it appears that this was not the case in this instance."

    "The School of Medicine has a deep commitment to the sacred trust of our donors and their families; from our educational programs, to our students and faculty, and to our long tradition of a donor mass to recognize this profound gift from each family," Stephen Ray Mitchell, Dean for Medical Education at Georgetown University School of Medicine, said in the statement.