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Remains of 2 babies found above ceiling at Gary funeral home

GARY, Ind. (AP) – The remains of two mummified or skeletonized babies have been found tucked inside small boxes above ceiling tiles in a northwestern Indiana funeral home, investigators said.

Gary police and the Lake County coroner on Wednesday removed the bodies of a stillborn and a newborn from Smith, Bizzell and Warner Funeral Home. The body of a boy who was about 24 weeks gestational age had a tag indicating the baby was delivered March 3, 1996. The other baby was younger and had no documentation, Lake County Coroner Merrilee Frey said.

The coroner said the funeral home owners, Concord Family Services Inc., contacted her after finding the remains. Concord vice president Sharon Vaughn said the home’s previous owners left the bodies in an area for unclaimed remains in the funeral home’s morgue. Concord bought the home in Gary, 35 miles southeast of Chicago, in 2005.

Gary police Sgt. Thomas Decanter said a criminal investigation has been opened and no other bodies were found.

“We don’t know where these bodies came from, how long they’ve been there, nothing,” Decanter said.

Autopsies are scheduled Friday. Frey said she will then sign death certificates for the babies. She said no documents were found when a local hospital, the Gary Health Department and the Indiana State Department of Health were contacted to find birth and death records for the babies.

“I commend the funeral home for contacting us and doing what’s right and proper and respectful for these babies in making sure they have a proper burial,” Frey said.