Decomposing bodies and cremated remains found at unlicensed funeral home, NY cops say

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Street View Image from December 2021 © 2021 Google

A family’s unanswered calls to a funeral home owner about their requested cremation services led police to discover multiple decomposing bodies and cremated remains, authorities in New York said.

It turns out the owner’s funeral director license was suspended and his funeral home was never licensed to begin with, according to the Johnstown Police Department.

An investigation is underway into the grisly findings at the Ehle-Barnett funeral home in Johnstown, owned by Brian M. Barnett. Barnett is “not allowed to conduct any funeral services,” police said in a Jan. 15 news release shared to Facebook.

Johnstown is located about 46 miles northwest of Albany.

The department said charges are pending after three decomposing bodies and “over a dozen containers of cremated remains” were found at the home on Jan. 14.

Police were first alerted when a family said their attempts to contact Barnett for weeks proved unsuccessful, according to the news release. Because of this, cops learned Barnett’s funeral director license was “suspended since late November” and his home in Johnstown was unlicensed and that it “could not store or handle any deceased persons.”

After officers’ efforts to reach Barnett went unanswered, Barnett reached out to police himself, they said.

“Barnett then told detectives that he still had the human remains at the funeral home and no services had been completed in several weeks,” the news release said.

These remains were “turned over” to another funeral home for “proper services,” according to police.

This was just the beginning of what authorities would soon discover in their investigation. They “learned of another deceased person, who had been retrieved by (Barnett) in late 2021,” police said.

Death records showed this person was cremated but the crematorium told investigators they had no record of their cremation, according to the release.

Barnett’s funeral home was then searched by police and the first set of human remains with “advanced decomposition” were found that weren’t “stored in a temperature controlled location and were not cared for in any manner,” authorities said.

Afterwards, police searched the funeral home’s garage where they

found two separate, badly decomposing human remains that “appeared to have been in the garage for a substantial amount of time,” police said.

Additionally, “over a dozen containers of cremated remains” were found, investigators said, and some jars were open that lacked any “visible” identification.

A website for Barnett’s funeral home is still online and the most recent obituary is dated Oct. 29, 2021.

The Fulton County Coroner’s Office alongside state police are handling the identification of the remains amid the ongoing investigation, the news release said.

Authorities will contact families of the bodies found once they’re identified.

If anyone is waiting for “remains of their loved ones” from Barnett’s funeral home, police said to contact them or the county coroner’s office in the release.

McClatchy News has reached out to police for more information.

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