By Michael D’Onofrio
PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia Police are investigating what appears to be dozens of boxes of cremated remains left inside a shuttered Black-owned funeral home in North Philadelphia.
Police searched the former Baker Funeral Home, at 2008 N. Broad St., on Friday afternoon and found the boxes containing what they believed to be cremated remains, a police spokesman said. Police gained entry through a rear garage door.
The investigation began after The Philadelphia Tribune received a tip from two self-described “urban explorers” who had trespassed in the building in March and photographed the boxes on a desk.
The “urban explorers,” who asked not to be named because what they do is considered a crime, shared the photos with the Tribune; they show more than three dozen boxes — some in plastic bags — labeled “Cremation Certificate” and with people’s names on them. Some of the labels include the name Ivy Hill Cemetery, which is in North Philadelphia, and some have dates as far back as 2000.
In two photos, a plastic bag of what appears to be cremated remains rests beside a small black box, all of which is positioned in front of stacks of dozens of other boxes.
One of the “urban explorers” who found the remains said the funeral home has become “very popular” in their circles in recent months, attracting people who want to take photos inside. The sources both said they contacted the Tribune because they wanted to prevent the remains from being taken.
“People are going in there every day,” said one source. “So eventually it’s going to get ransacked and people are going to steal … and destroy the place.”
Ellen Lyon, a spokeswoman for Pennsylvania’s Department of State, which oversees funeral homes, declined to comment on specific complaints in an email.
“However, speaking generally, we encourage people to report information like this to local law enforcement,” Lyon said. “When we receive information about practices or conditions that violate professional licensing standards, it is passed on to our prosecution division.”
Michael D’Onofrio is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared. Read the full story here.