Fox59 investigation finds company mishandling remains

Undercover camera records workers unloading bodies out of an Enterprise rental truck.


Living right across the street from a funeral home brings death close to Tammy Ellis' home, but seeing what she has from her kitchen is making it closer to her home than she ever imagined. She said she often sees bodies, uncovered, on gurneys.

"You have people living next to a funeral home, you want to make sure every part of it is covered up," said Ellis.  “They act like it's nothing serious, they don't try to cover them up or nothing." 

Fox59 decided to go undercover, wanting to know just how much people living in the area could see. When our cameras began rolling, we found much more than bodies not being completely covered. As our cameras recorded, an Enterprise rental truck pulled up to the Grinsteiner Funeral Home located on East New York Street. Out of the back of the truck came body after body, one by one, a total of eight removed by the time the van was empty.

"Does that mean the deceased are literally stacked like that in the back of the van?" asked Paul St. Pierre, President of the Indiana Funeral Directors Association.  "This is a disgrace."

Once out of the van, the bodies were not on a gurney or secured in any way. Instead, they were carried, draped in white tarps, on the shoulders and in the arms of employees.

"Seeing one person removed out of a van like that and dressed like that is one of the most disgusting things we've ever seen," said St. Pierre.

Grinsteiner's owners also operate Edwards Family Mortuary and Alpha Funeral Service. They have a contract with the Indiana University School of Medicine, taking cadavers from hospitals to medical centers so students can learn using them. Until a few months ago, the owners also did business with the Marion County Coroner’s Office.

In addition, the funeral homes have provided services for men and women who served our country. The Veterans Affairs Clinic said no service members went to Grinsteiner and Edwards last year, but several did go to Alpha.

"We are deeply disturbed at the possibility that any veteran who has served our nation would be treated with anything less than respect and dignity," said Julie Webb, Veterans Affairs spokesperson.

 Webb also said, after learning of our investigation, that the VA stopped doing business with all three of the homes.

Fox59 pulled inspection records and found Grinsteiner was inspected  twice in the last six years, with no major violations.  There are only four state inspectors at the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency, which is in charge of conducting funeral home inspections. Four workers are also responsible for inspecting cemeteries, cosmetology salons and schools, nail salons, barber shops, tanning salons, plumbing businesses and auctioneer houses.  That's four people to inspect 11,713 businesses in the state. The Indiana Professional Licensing declined to explain how their inspection process works with just four inspectors for so many businesses.

Fox59 also contacted the funeral home’s owner, Anthony Edwards.  After originally agreeing to an on-camera interview, he backed out and refused comment.

Across the street, Tammy Ellis is left wondering.

“I feel sorry for the parents," said Ellis.  “My question is: do they know?"




Look for this special section in your
Baltimore Sun newspaper on Dec. 29, 2013.
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