A child’s casket and internal organs, which were found on a North Philadelphia sidewalk earlier this week, were dumped in the city by a New Jersey-based funeral home, police discovered.
During a Thursday morning news conference on the macabre find, police Capt. Malachi Jones discussed the incident and said that, for the moment, no charges have been filed in relation to the case.
As detailed by the captain, on Monday at about 9:10 p.m., police recovered a child-sized coffin in a trash bag on the sidewalk along the 3000 block of West Clearfield Street.
Inside the casket, police discovered a bag of “infant baby human remains,” the captain said, noting these were organs that were likely removed during an autopsy. He said it is routine for autopsies to be conducted in order to determine cause of death when an infant dies.
After the discovery of the casket, Jones said police combed Mount Vernon Cemetery, near where the casket was found, expecting to find an open grave or the body of the deceased child. But an aerial search found nothing, said Jones.
Then, earlier this week, police got a call from a funeral home in New Jersey that gave them some answers but also led to more questions, Jones said.
Jones – who did not identify the funeral home or its exact location, nor the identity of the child whose remains were found – said that police learned that a funeral home in South Jersey held a funeral for a 3- or 4-month-old child on Thursday last week.
At that funeral, Jones said, the latch on the child’s casket broke, and the child’s body was placed in a different casket for burial.
The broken casket was left in a vehicle belonging to the funeral home and, Jones said, a bag containing the remains of the child’s organs was mistakenly left inside.
“The fact that the organs were separated from the body is something we are still investigating,” said the captain.
At some point after the funeral, Jones said, an employee of the funeral home took the vehicle and dumped the casket in North Philadelphia – though the child’s funeral was held in southern New Jersey, and the child was buried in New Jersey.
Jones said that police are still investigating why the casket was dumped on a North Philadelphia sidewalk.
“This is obviously not normal practice to how this is done,” said Jones.
Also, he said that the child’s family has been notified, and the child’s remains have been returned.
“The family was quite concerned, as anybody would be,” said the captain. “From what I understand, the family was quite upset.”
At this time, Jones said, there have been no charges brought against the funeral home or the employee who dumped the casket, but he said that the investigation is still ongoing.