HAYWARD, Calif. -- Six bodies and 154 cremated remains were recovered from a Hayward warehouse linked to Oceanview Cremations.
"I think if families hadn't start complaining and not be able to get any feedback from the owners of the business, we probably even wouldn't be here right now," explains Lieutenant Tya Modeste, with the Alameda County Sheriff's Office.
According to Lt. Modeste, Oceanview Cremations Corporation had allegedly been operating on a suspended license, going back to 2018. She suggests, the company may have been allowed to cremate, but not to store the remains.
"That's how they ended up incorporating the warehouse. And having them store there. So they actually weren't on their premises. But the issue there, is the warehouse was not licensed to store the remains either," says Modeste.
MORE: Human skeleton found in vacant building at UC Berkeley, officials say
On March 1, the coroner's bureau and Grissom's Mortuary, a county-contracted funeral home, responded to the Hayward warehouse to recover the remains. Five of the remains were identified and families were contacted.
Yelp reviews document the struggle many families faced over the years trying to locate the remains. Some saying the company's website was suspended.
Family members indicated that after their calls to Oceanview Cremations manager, Robert Smith, went unanswered, they believed their loved ones had been cremated or scattered at sea as requested.
"After a period of time, they just assumed that their love one was taken care of in the way that they entrusted Oceanview to take care of them. So the remains were supposed to be spread at sea. And that clearly didn't happen," says Lt. Modeste.
MORE: More human remains found in Lake Mead, marking at least the 6th discovery this year
Part of the investigation will also be to figure out why some the remains have been in storage for all these years.
The coroner's bureau is now asking for the public's help in reuniting one unidentified body and the other remains.
They say the decedents were received between 2020 and 2021. Five decedents were from Alameda County, and the sixth came from Sonoma County. Grissom's Mortuary has since sorted and alphabetized the cremated remains, which are from the following counties:
Alameda County (64)
Contra Costa County (10)
Fresno County (1)
Marin County (9)
Napa County (2)
Placer County (1)
Sacramento County (1)
Stanislaus County (2)
San Francisco County (23)
San Joaquin County (3)
San Mateo County (15)
Santa Clara County (9)
Santa Cruz County (4)
Solano County (8)
If you or someone you know entrusted Oceanview Cremations with final arrangements between 2013 and 2022 and you are uncertain of their disposition or the whereabouts of their cremated remains, please contact the Alameda County Coroner's Bureau at (510) 382-3000.