100 bodies found in unrefrigerated trailers outside Brooklyn funeral home

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Thursday, April 30, 2020
100 bodies found in unrefrigerated trucks outside NYC funeral home
Jim Dolan has the latest details on a shocking discovery when bodies were found piled in unrefrigerated trucks outside of a New York City funeral home.

FLATLANDS, Brooklyn -- City officials say they discovered bodies in two unrefrigerated trucks outside a Brooklyn funeral home following reports of a foul odor.

A police source told ABC News that two unrefrigerated trailers outside Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Services on Utica Avenue each contained 50 bodies.

Unrefrigerated trucks are not considered appropriate storage for bodies and are unnecessary as the city had obtained freezer trucks to temporarily hold bodies for overwhelmed funeral homes until arrangements are finalized.

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Upon learning of the situation Wednesday, the city sent the proper storage equipment to hold the bodies. City and state officials helped transfer the bodies to those refrigerated trucks provided by the city.

Neighbors indicated to Eyewitness News that they witnessed the bodies being placed into the unrefrigerated trucks on and off for a month -- not in caskets but in body bags.

Some said they noticed a lot of disrespect to the bodies too.

"If they were to do that to my father or my mother or my sister or my child, I would go crazy," said neighbor John Di Pietro.

The owner of the funeral home indicated to city officials that its freezer stopped working.

The state health department, which licenses funeral homes, was notified and will investigate. Summonses are expected for improper handling of human remains.

Dr. David Penepent is a funeral director who teaches at SUNY Canton. He was brought in by the state to help.

"This funeral home is over-capacitated with human remains and that is true," Penepent said. "He got overwhelmed with the number of remains that he had and he didn't know what to do and I'm here to assist him in this operation."

NYPD closed the street for crowd control and to keep people away because of the risk of infection from bodies not stored in appropriate conditions. No criminality is suspected

The city announced the freezer truck initiative last week as an alternate to having to temporarily bury unclaimed remains. The city believes these trucks can keep human remains frozen for up to a year.

Funeral directors are required to store decedents awaiting burial or other final disposition in appropriate conditions and follow their routine infection prevention and control precautions.

Borough President Eric Adams said he is putting together a committee that will find a way to deal with the bodies found at the funeral home. The committee will include everyone who is a part of "handling bodies" and will find a way to deal with the discovery.

The investigation is ongoing.