Decomposing Bodies Found in Garage at Unlicensed Funeral Home: Police

Decomposing bodies were found at an improperly run and unlicensed funeral home in upstate New York, police announced this weekend.

Officers in Johnstown stated on Saturday that an investigation had on Friday turned up several bodies and cremated ashes at the Ehle-Barnett Funeral Home. Police first began looking into the situation on Monday when a family reported being unable to reach owner Brian M. Barnett for weeks after contracting his business for cremation services.

The early investigation into the matter revealed that Barnett's funeral home license had been suspended in late November, and that the home operated out of had never been licensed and was not properly set up to house remains. After several unsuccessful attempts to reach Barnett, the business owner reached out to police himself and confirmed that the remains the family was concerned about were still in his possession.

funeral home decomposing bodies
Decomposing bodies and unmarked cremated remains were found at an unlicensed, improperly run funeral home in upstate New York this weekend. Above, a representational image of bodies in cold storage. Marco Longari/AFP via Getty Images

Further investigation into Barnett's operation revealed another body that was reportedly turned over to his unlicensed funeral home late last year. Once the home was finally searched on Friday, police found several corpses in states of "advanced decomposition." These bodies were also not being "stored in a temperature controlled location and were not cared for in any manner," and were kept in close proximity to everyday household items and furniture.

More badly decayed bodies were found in the garage and determined to have been stored there for a long time.

"Dozens" of containers of cremated ashes were also found.

"Some containers listed the identification of the individual, however there were several containers that did not have a visible identification tag and which were open," the Johnstown police department noted in its official press release.

The process of identifying the bodies is now being handled by the Fulton County Coroner's Office with aid from the state police. Families will be contacted once their loved ones have been identified.

"If families have had services with the Ehle-Barnett funeral home and have not received the remains of their loved ones, they can contact the Fulton County Coroner's Office or the Johnstown Police Department," the press release stated. "We ask that family members have the date, time and location of when their loved one passed away. The Johnstown Police Department would like to thank the A.G. Cole Funeral home for the respectful handling of the remains. Family members may also email JPD@cityofjohnstown.ny.gov with any questions regarding this sensitive investigation."

A similar incident unfolded at a funeral home in Pocatello, Idaho, in early September. Fire and EMS crews responded to reports of a strong odor coming from the building and an investigation turned up numerous decaying bodies, among them several fetuses.